Greatest Hits

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Taking the two volumes of The Best of UB40 and skillfully whittling them to the size of a single CD, Virgin's 2008 set Greatest Hits is unarguably truth in advertising, even if fans of the English reggae band will still tussle over whether or not the pop hits are pandering numbers well below the group's capabilities. The whole span of UB40's career is displayed in the first two tracks with the opening cover version of "(I Can't Help) Falling in Love with You" representing the ultra-slick, easy to swallow side of the band while "One in Ten" fights for the underdog with roots reggae attitude and dubby production. 'Course track three, the cover of Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine," is the big divider as it crops up at weddings, frat houses, and every pool party held since the single's release in 1983. If you think it reggae's "Don't Worry Be Happy," you probably won't enjoy the take on "I Got You Babe" with Chrissie Hynde, or the band's squeaky clean version of "The Way You Do the Things You Do," but there are 21 tracks here so you can take whatever stance you want on the "sellout" issue and still be left with plenty of greatness. Whether you never heard it or just forgot about it, the inclusion of "If It Happens Again" is a horn-driven highlight, and even the sourest UB40 fan sports a smile when the high-stepping "Rat in Mi Kitchen" gets a spin. Then there's the great "Kingston Town," its wistful melody so beautiful Paris Hilton's people lifted it for her "Stars Are Blind" single. Unfortunately, the set stops at 2003 with the rugby anthem "Swing Low," and seeing how lead singer Ali Campbell left the band in 2008 this is just five years short of being the definitive word on UB40 Mach 1. A smaller complaint is the everyday artwork and not one picture of the band included, but otherwise this is the one-disc, nonjudgmental document of UB40 done right. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi