Every year, tens of thousands of industrious migrant workers come to the West Midlands from Eastern Europe to fill jobs as plumbers, builders, farm workers and the like.

And now Birmingham is returning the favour by sending over some key workers of its own to the other side of the Iron Curtain - reggae musicians.

Brummie band Johnny 2 Bad have headed to the Baltic state for a tour of gigs and TV appearances after they were headhunted by a superstar, who has been called "Lithuania's Kylie Minogue" , to record a chart-busting hit for her native country.

And singer Wayne Lawrence even learned the local language to record a version of reggae standard My Boy Lollipop (Mano Saldainiuk) that is currently riding high in the Lithuanian charts.

Singer Asta Pilypaite had come to Birmingham to escape the Lithuanian paparazzi after a high-profile divorce, and fell in love with Johnny 2 Bad's music when she heard an album of UB40 covers the band had released.

And the star - who as well as being a regular chart topper in her home country presents the local versions of Strictly Come Dancing and Britain's Got Talent - was desperate to get in the studio with the reggae band.

Speaking just days before the band flew out to start their first tour of the country, Wayne said the hardest part of the whole process had been wrapping his tongue round the tricky Lithuanian language.

He said: "Asta came into the studio and we translated the song and did it half in Lithuanian and half in English. We couldn't swap the words exactly because there's more syllables there, so they pretty much rescripted the whole song.

"It was more the pronunciation than anything that got to me. But I think the collaboration was great. We only had a few hours with her so we had to lay down the vocals first, but I think it turned out particularly well in the end."

Pilypaite had an album due out in Lithuania but asked the record company to delay it so that the collaboration could be added.

And the record turned out to be a big hit in the country, going straight into the charts at number 16, and climbing up in the following weeks.

Wayne Lawrence said he hoped the tour would give Mano Saldainiuk the final push to get it to the top spot, saying: "It's great to have it riding high in the charts.

"We are going over there to try to get it to number one. We'll shoot a video and do a lot of promotion for it, we've got TV and radio appearances and a few live perform-ances with Asta.

"The band has even learned one of her songs from the album in Lithuanian, and we're going to be doing that live."

Johnny 2 Bad were formed as a reggae supergroup, made up of musicians from backing bands for the likes of Pato Banton, Musical Youth and Apache Indian.

A couple of years ago they released an album of UB40 covers as a tribute to the legendary Birmingham band after recruiting Wayne as their very own Ali Campbell.

But they have now recorded an album of their own material, due to be released soon.

Although the members of the band have travelled the world on tour in the course of their careers, this is their first visit to Lithuania.

Their manager, Steve Hughes, said the success of their song had been an inspiration for all the members of Johnny 2 Bad He added: "They've gone from being a backing band to a covers band, to a life of their own."