Easy Star All-Stars: Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band

By: Dennis Cook

This is a real delight. The third reinvention from the Easy Star All-Stars carries the sunny effervescence of classic '60s reggae, true roots of roots music stuff, where Jamaican moods meet English/American radio pop and the two share a flavorful cup of tea. Despite their sacrosanct nature to many, particularly as regards Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles lend themselves to this kind of bold arranging, where the underlying melodies and lyrics remain but the muscle and skin of them is wholly All-Stars.

The multiplicity of creamy, pleasurable vocalists - Luciano, Matisyahu, The Mighty Diamonds, Max Romeo, Sugar Minott, Ranking Roger, Steel Pulse and more – creates the feel of a great vintage Trojan Records comp you've never heard. Each singer is perfectly placed with their track, each finding some joyful route into the well tread material in ways that recall Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt's superb handling of covers. Worth singling out is Kirsty Rock's totally intoxicating turn on "She's Leaving Home." And backed by one of the most resolutely solid bands in contemporary reggae and lively, suitably stoney arrangements it all flows.

This album's arrival couldn't be better timed. As spring gives way to heat waves and shoreline excursions, Easy Star has crafted a soundtrack for our road trips that's both familiar and alien, an alternate reality where the Fab Four grew up on a different island and grew righteous dreadlocks. Much like their inspired reworking of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Mooon, this set hits the ideal balance of respect and irreverence for a beloved, important album, reaffirming the fact that one should never underestimate the ingenuity and creativity of the Easy Star All-Stars.


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[Published on: 5/25/09]

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