UB40

Live at Montreux 2002 [Video]

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UB40's 2005 release Who You Fighting For? was the British reggae group's finest album in many years, an admission of sorts that the band had been wallowing in sameness for some time and needed an injection of new ideas if it was to stay afloat. But this live CD predates it by three years, and although from the sound of it the Montreux audience was in the band's thrall from the first seconds of the show -- a cover of the Temptations' "The Way You Do the Things You Do" -- the 2002 set mostly serves to remind just how complacent UB40 had become. Technically, the band is, as ever, flawlessly tight, and singer Ali Campbell's trademark nasality is endearing as he helms the group through a typical set of older hits and well-chosen covers. But the performance is so polished that it loses the rawness endemic to true roots reggae. You will undoubtedly find yourself singing along to the chart smashes "Red, Red Wine," "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" and "(I Can't Help) Falling in Love with You," and perhaps that is the point of a concert by a band with such a long, proven track record. But this is as safe a reggae album as you'll ever hear, not nearly as satisfying in the end as what the venerable Brits would cook up the next time out.

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