Great British Songs
February 13, 2011
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 3/4||Production : 3||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3|
The follow up to Ali Campbell's album 'Flying High' is a collection of covers called 'Great British Songs'. After his first solo outing since he left UB40 he teamed up with Jamaican ace producers and musicians Sly & Robbie to create this album, which they recorded in Jamaica and London.
Ali Campbell is a gifted vocalist and his work with UB40 has helped to popularise reggae all over the world. When UB40 started they came up with some wicked reggae tunes like 'King' (about the late Martin Luther King,), 'Tyler' and 'Burden of Shame'. Their debut set 'Signing Off' became a classic and the Ubbies started to conquer the world after they released 'Labour Of Love', an album of cover songs, in 1983. Since then they have become a fine crossover band and recently Ali Campbell left the band to persue a solo career. UB40 is one of the most successful reggae acts of all time in terms of record sales (over 70 million), chart positions and touring schedule.
It's obvious that Ali Campbell was the soul of UB40 and that his musical direction has not changed since the days of UB40. The reworking of pop/soul classics has always been part of the Jamaican music industry, and for this album Ali Campbell has concentrated on classic British tunes. This is what Ali Campbell has to say about this project: "It's always daunting taking on classic songs of this nature as you want to do them justice and at the same time give them a new feel – a reggae feel in this case. I chose songs that were iconic but they are not 'obvious' choices that you would assume would work in a reggae style. How do you make Paint It Black reggae? That is the appeal in some ways – that it's not something you can imagine before you hear it."
The collection doesn't disappoint on all fronts as one can't ignore the musical qualities of Ali Campbell and the backing band, but the music doesn't go deep. 'Muzak' was an expression that was used for music without soul and emotion and Ali Campbell comes very close to it with this album. Compare his interpretation of the Hollies' He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother with Pat Kelly's rendition of the song and you'll know what we mean. We skipped the dancehall influenced Love Is The Drug as well as You Really Got me, two embarrassing failures. Baker Street from the recently deceased Garry Rafferty is a decent interpretation of the song as it sticks really close to the original.
For fans only...