-- By KCRW Music Publicity Director and Music Blog Editor, Rachel Reynolds
Taking on Michael Jackson for a covers collection is no easy task, but neither is taking on the Beatles, Pink Floyd, or Radiohead, all legends whose classic work has gotten the reggae treatment from Easy Star All-Stars.
With Lonely Hearts Dub Band, Dub Side of the Moon, and Radiodread, they drenched three classic albums in dub with great success, all receiving significant KCRW airplay. (Those clever names, not to mention the fantastic album art, only add to the appeal.) The NY-based music collective is about to release their fourth covers effort, Thrillah, on August 28.
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, but it never feels forced. And it’s pretty easy to have fun when you’ve got members of such legendary reggae groups as Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru and Morgan Heritage helping out as well.
Their first attempt at transforming an R&B/soul album into one with a reggae spin was certainly a cool challenge, as producer/guitarist/arranger Michael Goldwasser explains:
“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.”
We’re glad the Easy Star All-Stars were up for the challenge, and after checking out this week’s Album Preview, we think you will be too.
Thrillah will be available to stream on demand from Monday, August 20 through August 27, 2012.