When I first heard Jason Bentley spinning a reggae-flavored cover of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”, I was totally intrigued. Before the song was over, I realized it MUST be the work of Easy Star All-Stars, a NYC-based collective that is known for their covers collections.
Taking on Michael Jackson is no easy task, but neither is taking on the Beatles, Pink Floyd, or Radiohead, all legends whose classic work has gotten the a makeover from Easy Star All-Stars.
On “Thrillah”, they tackle the biggest selling album of all time like they do everything else – with a great sense of fun and excellent musicianship. In all of the songs, you can almost hear the initial jams that led to the studio recordings. The playfulness of putting gigantic pop hits through the kaleidoscope of reggae is always there, so it never feels forced.
Stream “Human Nature” below.
In fact, this is their first attempt at transforming an R&B/soul album and it really works with a reggae spin. Producer/guitarist/arranger Michael Goldwasser called it a “cool challenge”:
“I didn’t have to try to make non-dance music into dance music as on our previous albums because the original “Thriller” is so danceable already. I needed to find ways to make each song groove in a different way from the original version – I didn’t want any of the arrangements to be obvious in that regard.”
Next week we’ll be streaming the ENTIRE album as part of KCRW’s Album Preview series.