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15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About UB40's Labour Of Love

15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About UB40's Labour Of Love

15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About UB40's Labour Of Love
10 June 2014

UB40's released Labour Of Love, the album that would turn them into international superstars, on 1st September 1983.

The first of four covers albums by the band, it is comprised of 10 songs originally performed by their favourite artists.

Though they were already a successful band at home in the UK, the cover of reggae legend Tony Tribe's Red Red Wine took UB40 global. As you'll see from our gallery, though, Tony wasn't actually the song's author.

Do you know the link between Labour Of Love and the cult horror film Candyman? Or how the band allegedly cost some factory workers their jobs? 

Take a look at our gallery and see how much you know about this classic album.



All conversations about Labour Of Love begin, inevitably, with UB40's cover of Red Red Wine.

In 1983, it became the band's first UK #1 single.

The version the band had heard was by reggae legend Tony Tribe, whom they mistakenly believed to be its author.

In fact, Red Red Wine was originally written by the deeply-uncool Neil Diamond, who released it in 1968, with Tribe's version appearing the following year.


On its original release, Red Red Wine climbed to #34 in the American charts. However, when it was re-released in 1988 with an extra "toast" verse by Astro, it did even better.

Propelled by the band's show-stopping performance at the Free Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembley Stadium, which was televised around the world, the song finally hit #1 in America too.


Two songs covered on Labour Of Love appeared on the soundtrack to the 1973 Jimmy Cliff film The Harder They Come.

The Jamaican movie stars Cliff as Ivanhoe Martin, a penniless musician who descends into a life of crime.


The Harder They Come soundtrack album was a huge success that proved pivotal to breaking reggae in America.

It featured classic cuts including Toots And The Maytals' Pressure Drop and Jimmy Cliff's own You Can Get It If You Really Want.

UB40 chose to re-record Johnny Too Bad and Many Rivers To Cross for Labour Of Love.


According to Blood & Fire, the autobiography of Ali and Robin Campbell, UB40 didn't actually make any money from Labour Of Love.

An astonishing fact, really, when you consider that it sold 10 million copies worldwide and spawned four UK Top 40 singles.


In October 1983, Please Don't Make Me Cry, the follow-up single to Red Red Wine, became the band's second consecutive Top 10 hit.

The song was originally performed by Winston Tucker (better known by his stage name Winston Groovy) in 1970. 

In 2000, Tucker performed on the band's Labour Of Love III tour.


The first song on Labour Of Love is a cover of Cherry Oh Baby, a 1971 single by Jamaican musician Eric Donaldson. UB40's version reached #12 in the charts.

The song was also covered by The Rolling Stones on their 1976 album Black And Blue.

Donaldson still lives in Jamaica and now runs the Cherry Oh Baby Go-Go bar in his hometown of Kent Village.


Labour Of Love was accompanied by a full-length video directed by Bernard Rose (left). Rose later went on to write and direct the cult horror classic Candyman.

Rose's UB40 film is a bit less bloodythirsty, though. It's comprised of various music videos with an interlinking storyline that involves the band, their friends and families. 

Rose, who worked on the final series of The Muppets in 1981, also directed the uncensored video for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax.


Labour Of Love features a cover of Boy Friday's Version Girl.

Boy Friday was an alias of reggae legend Dandy Livingstone. Livingstone also wrote Rudy, A Message to you, which was popularised by The Specials in 1978.

Even better than that, though, in 1968 his band Brother Dan All Stars put out an album called Follow That Donkey. Superb.


In the video for Red Red Wine, Ali Campbell is actually drinking beer.

The shoot took place in a pub in Birmingham, where the band laid on free booze for some local factory workers to entice them to appear as extras.

According to UB40 legend, the workers returned to the factory completely hammered and were fired on the spot, though they were later given their jobs back.


In 1989, Rolling Stone ranked Labour Of Love at #98 in its list of the Top 100 Albums Of The 1980s.



Also according to Blood & Fire, the band's insistence that they run all their own financial and business interests proved disastrous.

For example, £60,000 of the Labour... cash was spent on Echobass, a band they'd signed to their label, DEP. But despite the massive investment, Echobass's album was never released. Oops...


Labour Of Love was produced by Ray "Pablo" Falconer, brother of Earl Falconer, the band's bassist.


Songwriter Renford Cogle, pictured left, was a member of The Melodians, from Kingston, Jamaica.

Cogle wrote Sweet Sensation, which is the fourth track on Labour Of Love.

He also wrote By The Rivers Of Bablyon, a song that became one of the top ten best-selling singles in UK history when it was covered by Boney M in 1978.

...Babylon also appears on the soundtrack to The Harder They Come.


The cover of Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross was Labour Of Love's third single in December 1983. It reached #16 in the charts.

The song has also been recorded by Cher (who scored a UK Top 40 hit with it in 1993) and by Annie Lennox (who hit the Billboard Hot 100 with her version in 2008).