They're clever fellas, those Easy Star All-Star boys. First they tackled one of the pillars of psychedelia with Dub Side Of The Moon, a very faithful retelling in the reggae, dub and ska vernacular of the Pink Floyd classic. They followed this up with a retelling of Radiohead's Okay Computer called Radiodread.
But it is this reverent reinterpretation of what is arguably The Beatles greatest album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, that is my favourite. As Mine says, there is so much built-in recognition of the tracks, particularly as the All-Stars work hard to recreate the wonderful layers of sound and vocals. It is faithful and infinitely likeable. In fact, I think even a hardened Beatles fan couldn't help but enjoy this.
When I first heard this, I couldn't believe how easily some of the tracks fit the style. For The Benefit Of Mr Kite perfectly suited the dub retelling while A Day In The Life sounded as powerful as the original ever was, with a killer horn section.
They could be viewed as a novelty act, simply using reggae. But the reality of each of their releases so far points at something far more reverent, musically adept and attuned. Can't wait to hear what they do next.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
Well I'm really glad the pointy stick landed on this album and not the others - as my complete lack of Radiohead appreciation is well known, and I prefer this album to Dark Side of the Moon anyway.
I know all the words to all the songs - it's like they're embedded in my DNA or something - and the All-Stars don't do anything too horrific to the tunes. There's a great deal of respect for the tunes, which still stand and shine on their own. I really liked the fact that they got a female vocalist to do She's Leaving Home (my favourite track on the album) because it really fits well with the feeling of the song.
Other cheeky changes include calling the cellophane flowers in Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds "red, gold and green" (Rasta colours) rather than "yellow and green," and asking Lovely Rita to "smoke some tea with me." Not one for the Beatles purists, but a fresh way to hear tunes that are essential in the soundtrack to my life.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
For more information: http://www.myspace.com/easystarallstars
In our collection, we also have: Dub Side Of The Moon and Radiodread