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Published: 2009/04/15
by Brian Robbins

Easy Stars Lonely Hearts Dub Band Easy Star All-Stars

Easy Star Records

Is there anything that the Easy Star All-Stars can’t put a reggae spin on and make work? First, they tackled Pink Floyd (2003’s Dub Side Of The Moon); then moved on to Radiohead in 2006 (Radiodread, of course). Now we have their take on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and, to put it simply, it’s great.

Yes, I see those raised eyebrows and hear those sharp intakes of breath out there: “They’ve gone too far this time!” you wail. “They’re taking on the Holy Grail!” Tis true but when you stop and think about the original’s groundbreaking production work (including wild samples drifting in and out of nowhere) and compare it to the world of Jamaican dub, hmmm starts making sense, doesn’t it?

I know, I know – In lesser hands, Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band could have come off sounding like bad reggae karaoke, but producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Michael Goldwasser approached this project with very-apparent love and respect – and, yes, a bit of humor, too. I’ll leave it to you to catch the Rastafied lyrics sprinkled throughout the album, but here’s one sample:

Woke up

Fell out of bed

Dragged my fingers through my dreads

Cute? Sure but you can see the character in your mind and it all just flows and soars and tells the tale. (They set the bar pretty high with the bong hit intro to “Money” on Dub Side Of The Moon.)

Guests appear throughout the album, including Luciano, Steel Pulse, Matisyahu, and The Mighty Diamonds, but it’s the core Easy Star All-Stars that lay the groundwork and make Lonely Hearts Dub Band work. Doesn’t matter if you have managed to somehow never lay ear to the original Beatles masterpiece – you could sit down with Lonely Hearts Dub Band and come away saying, “That’s a cool reggae album.” The All Stars and friends make it all happen themselves (no samples from Sgt. Pepper’s were used) and the music sounds as though it’s always been that way from the skanked-up “Little Help From My Friends” to the swirling dub of “A Day In The Life.”

I’ll make a bet with you: spend a little time with this album and it’ll begin to feel so natural that you’ll end up putting on the original just to remember what it sounded like. And that’s quite a compliment.

What’s next, Easy Star All-Stars? Quadrophenia? White Light/White Heat? Surrealistic Pillow?

Then again, what’s the hurry, mon? Kick back take it easy yeah.

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