Various artists album review
UB40 Present The Fathers Of Reggae
DEP International-Virgin Records
06 - 01 - 2003

Tracking list

  1. Mighty Diamonds - You Could Meet Somebody
  2. Freddie McGregor - You're Always Pulling Me Down
  3. Gregory Isaacs - Bring Me Your Cup
  4. Brent Dowe - Silent Witness
  5. Honey Boy - Always There
  6. Alton Ellis - I Love It When You Smile
  7. Jackie Robinson - Don't Do The Crime
  8. Max Romeo - Watchdogs
  9. Bob Andy - Love Is Alright
  10. Ken Boothe - The Earth Is Screaming
  11. Winston Groovy - Don't Slow Down
  12. Leroy Sibbles - Higher Ground
  13. John Holt - The Pillow
  14. Toots Hibbert - C'est La Vie
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4

Virgin has released UB40's 13th studio album entitled "UB 40 Present The Fathers Of Reggae", a fine 14-track compilation set that features the group paired with such reggae veterans as The Mighty Diamonds, Freddie McGregor, Gregory Isaacs, Max Romeo, Ken Boothe and Alton Ellis. On their three "Labour Of Love" albums UB40 transformed classic works of reggae artists into versions of their own. Not only brought these huge selling albums UB40 worldwide success, it also brought reggae to a mainstream audience. With their "The Fathers Of Reggae" project (which took three years before it was finished) they have now released a reverse version of their "Labour Of Love" releases. Instead of UB40 singing other people's songs, we're treated to mostly well known reggae artists singing original UB40 tunes. In addition to the array of guest vocalists, UB40 utilized the mixing skills of Sly & Robbie, Fatta & Bulby, Steely & Clevie and Danny Brownie. We have to admit we didn't expect much from this album, as UB40 had gone too much into mainstream pop reggae to be really interesting and worthwhile checking. However, we have to confess that we were quite pleasantly surprised while listening to this collection of tunes. The original versions of most of the songs included here are unknown to us, so we aren't able to compare them with these new interpretations. Maybe an advantage as it enables one to listen with a more open mind.
The album opens strong with Mighty Diamonds' sweet vocal delivery in "You Could Meet Somebody", which is followed by Freddie McGregor's "You're Always Putting Me Down". A decent tune which fully benefits from Freddie's fine vocal style. Then we're treated to one of the standouts and also our personal favourite track featured on this set... "Bring Me Your Cup" by Gregory Isaacs. The Cool Ruler's voice isn't as good as it was in his heydays, but sometimes he's still able to deliver a notable effort. And in this case he just does it. Next comes former Melodians member Brent Dowe whose vocal delivery is still as good and appealing now as it was then. His version of "Silent Witness" - definitely one of the best tracks from the UB40 album "Present Arms" - is a truly outstanding tune. Next drops "Always There" by Honey Boy, which is followed by Alton Ellis' "I Love It When You Smile". Both are rather mediocre tunes and especially Alton Ellis' track doesn't live up to expectations. The same goes for Bob Andy's version of "Love Is All Is Alright", which is a really disappointing effort from an artist who has brought us so many wonderful songs.
Jackie Robinson nicely covers "Don't Do The Crime", while first Max Romeo and then Ken Boothe deliver real good versions of "Watchdogs" and "The Earth Dies Screaming". Especially the latter is an impressive tune with a high quality level and thus belongs to the standouts on this album. Winston Groovy, in combination with deejay Astro, brings a good version of "Don't Slow Down" and also John Holt's silky vocal delivery, fully displayed in "The Pillow", is well worth hearing. And don't overlook Leroy "Heptone" Sibbles' "Higher Ground" either, because this is a solid tun and another highlight of this set. The album opened strong, but unfortunately closes with a weak tune, "C'est La Vie" by Toots Hibbert (from Toots & The Maytals).
All in all "UB40 Present The Fathers Of Reggae" contains enough good tunes to make it worthwhile checking!

Teacher & Mr. T.