I want to tell you the story of how this album came to join the rest of the playlist that I wish to take with me to the next world.
As a Hamilton College student in the early 1980’s, I was fortunate to spend my time with the campus radio station, WHCL. During my time there, I and several other students helped transform the station from a 5-watt monaural broadcast that barely reached half the campus, to a 270-watt stereo powerhouse that could be heard throughout the Mohawk Valley. This is nice.
And during my time there, I was exposed to several new musical genres – including British new wave, ska, rock-steady and reggae music. Some of it was a bit much to take in, some of it took time to absorb.
Eventually, however, I did grow to appreciate some of this new music – including the works of British reggae musicians UB40. And when an album called Labour of Love arrived at the WHCL studios, almost every disc jockey played the bejeebers out of it. It was usually two different tracks that received airplay love – a cover of Bob Marley’s “Many Rivers To Cross,” and an old Neil Diamond rarity called “Red, Red Wine.”
Of course, how was I to know that UB40 were paying respects to a version of “Red, Red Wine” by performer Tony Tribe?
It’s 1983 and UB40’s “Red Red Wine” becomes a worldwide hit; in America it becomes a #1 college radio smash. A few years later, a disc jockey in Phoenix started playing the song again… and all of a sudden, the UB40 track becomes a #1 hit in the United States.
UB40 had a few more American hits, mostly reggae-ified covers of songs like “I Got You Babe” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” But it was this album, Labour of Love, that really showed, for me at least, that there was a way to immerse myself into a new musical style – while, at the same time, appreciating the sounds upon which these new musical styles were based.
So let’s put yet another LP into the afterlife storage unit.
Okay, crank up the speakers and enjoy. Thanks to some YouTube subscriber, here’s the entire LP of Labour of Love. Enjoy.
Told you it would make you feel better. Doesn’t feel so cold outside today, now does it?
Truly a great album. It was great when they came to Hamilton – I think the English Beat opened for them.
nice review, but Many Rivers To Cross is a Jimmy Cliff song, not Bob Marley’s….
How do you expect to have any room for your corpse with all these albums in your casket?
Chad – that’s why the good Lord invented the iPod. 🙂
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