Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band - Easy Star All-Stars
Producer Michael Goldwasser says “We’ve focused on re-envisioning concept albums as reggae and it’s really important that the source material works as a whole and is not just a collection of songs. So, what better to take on next than the mother of all concept albums?” No doubt! It takes a lot of brass to try and recreate Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in a reggae stylee. But, Easy Star Records’ in-house project, the Easy Star All-stars have proven themselves fun and fearless on their previous two dubby reimaginings: Dub Side Of The Moon and Radiodread (respectively the Pink Floyd classic and OK Computer set to the one-drop). What’s most telling about these experiments is how malleable really good music is. It can be orchestrated, stripped to its essentials and yes, reggaefied to good effect. It can also be denigrated as in the Bee Gees’ God-awful soundtrack to the movie catastrophe, Sgt. Peppers. Back to Michael Goldwasser though; he and his Easy Star team have handled all three of these dubwise interpretations of the originals with kid gloves, offering listeners, not an alternative to the classic recordings, but a loving tribute. In Jamaica it’s long been a sign of critical assent when an album spawns a dub version. The roster of guest singers doesn’t hurt the production either, with Luciano blessing With A Little Help From My Friends, Steel Pulse smoothing out the bombast of Good Morning, Good Morning and, my personal fave, The Mighty Diamonds ringing true the gorgeous harmonies of Getting Better. There’s a couple of clunkers. Frankie Paul’s limited range becomes painfully evident when he tackles Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and while I admire Matisyahu’s spiritualism, it provides no miracles for Within You Without You. But, these are only minor detractors in a fun record you’ll want to slip into the mix to surprise your friends.