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DVD Review



UB40 - Live At Montreux 2002
Eagle DVD
       This music DVD from Britain's longtime reggae proponents UB40 is a testament to the band's long career of bringing reggae music to the pop charts. While never claiming to be an authentic reggae band, UB40 nonetheless has done more to introduce pop music listeners to the beats of reggae than anyone since the Police and maybe Bob Marley himself.
       Formed in a welfare line (the name of the band is taken from the numeric designation of a British unemployment benefit form) in 1978, the multi-racial band UB40 is a microcosm of the working class community they rose out from. All struggling musicians with a common denominator being their love for reggae, the band quickly got together and started making a name for themselves just as Britain's original Two-Tone reggae scene was starting to fade. What doomed the two-tone movement was the strict adherence to traditional reggae styles - something that UB40 never really concerned themselves with. While it took them a while to get going, the band started having hits pretty steadily and continue to have hits to this day in Europe.
       Performing twenty-one of their best loved and most well-known hits, the video of UB40 at the Montreux Jazz Fest in 2002 makes for a definitive UB40 experience and amply shows why the band has been one of the most popular British exports ever. Developing a radical yet inoffensive sound, the band has managed to carve out a career by taking covers of old songs and re-popularizing them by re-doing them in a slightly reggae/Brit-pop style. It does not hurt the band that they have created a universal appeal due to not only their decidely non-edgy, goodtime reggae but the band's dynamic as a multi-racial family creating a spiritual dance groove.
       This DVD will resonate with anyone who enjoys their reggae mixed with a heavy dollop of British pop. Never shooting for skanky, authentic reggae, the band ended up becoming one of the most influential reggae bands in the world by watering down the essence of reggae and mixing it with traditonal British pop to create a blend of grooving reggae even the most uptight person could enjoy. In other words, you don't have to be a reggae collector to get a rise from this DVD. You've heard all these songs on the radio - so check them out live. - Scott Homewood



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