Pop reggae wasn’t invented in Gothenburg, more’s the pity. Back in 1983, UB40 had made a record celebrating the Jamaican music they grew up loving, and discovered that a lot of other people had loved it too, and even more loved the idea of loving it so long as it was filtered through the curatorial larynx of Ali Campbell. Labour Of Love made the band a fortune and froze their career: gentle weddings’n’parties reggae was what they did now.
“I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” was another single which seemed to grab the chart by the bollocks for weeks on end – though this turns out to be my loathing of it magnifying the situation. I have to admit it doesn’t sound quite as Satanic now – the backing in particular has a bit more weight than I remember (or perhaps than my cheap TV set could muster). But it’s far from a good single – the brass sounds thin, the digital whomp becomes too rigid after a while, and all the instruments are fighting a particularly pedestrian Campbell. He seems to have no idea what to make of the song, which is a flexible one – it’s been done well as seduction and addiction, but Campbell takes “can’t help” and turns it into habit. By the end “falling in love” might as well be “going to Homebase”.
(Some tiny degree of interest might be generated by the video, exploiting the song’s position as soundtrack single to Sharon Stone vehicle Sliver, and featuring mush-mouthed Ali C as a sleazeball video voyeur. Alas there’s nothing on the record to back this reading up.)