Reggae legends House of Shem and UB40 team up

House of Shem are one of the go-to names on any reggae festival's wishlist - but even Isaiah and Te Omeka Perkins still get a little starstruck by their own late dad, Carl.

"Now that I look back at it, I just think 'man what a blessing it's been,' you know," Te Omeka told Newshub.

Three years ago, reggae pioneer and House of Shem founder Carl Perkins died of bowel cancer aged just 59.

On Friday, the band released 'Message of Love', one of the final songs to feature his vocals.

And it's not just any band you can hear underneath Perkins' voice: the song's a collaboration with UK reggae legends UB40.

"Yeah it's pretty good, it's humbling eh. Humbling and a beautiful experience," says Te Omeka of the collaboration.

House of Shem are the first Kiwis to collaborate with UB40, helped along by Carl's 40-year friendship with the band, stretching back to his days in Herbs.

The brothers hope UB40 fans take in the message and positive vibes - and in the process widen their own fanbase.

"Yeah, help to build our careers up as well you know, help us financially as well, hopefully, fingers crossed," laughs Isaiah Perkins.

'Message of Love' is one of three House of Shem tracks to be featured on UB40's upcoming album, Bigga Baggariddim.

UB40 sent over the three instrumentals, asking House of Shem to pick one, and come up with vocals over the top.

They ended up using all of them.

"I always remember him, when he finished the songs, he said it brought tears to his eyes to hear the songs you know," says Te Omeka.

It's been a bittersweet wait for the release. The vocals were recorded just a couple of months before Carl's death.

"You hear the performance, there was nothing wrong. It was all there, the power was still there, and that's what's pretty mindblowing," says Te Omeka.  

"It was such a blessing to see him so strong, and keeping it together with his cancer," says Isaiah.

Two brothers preserving their father's legacy, and forging a new path.