Monday, 4 March 2013

100 LPs Shortlist #29b: Easy Star All-Stars "Sgt Pepper..."

What would you think if Sgt Pepper went Dub Reggae?

Think about that for a moment. The Beatles a la reggae. In theory, that should be dreadful (no pun intended). In the hands of the Easy Star All-stars, it's anything but.

Easy Star All-Stars had previously made a name for themselves with other Dub Reggae interpretations of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Radiohead's "Ok Computer". "Dark Side of the Moon" Easy-Star style was done brilliantly. I was less enamoured with "Radiodread", their interpretation of "Ok Computer", and I held some trepidation as they released a version of "Sgt Pepper". I shouldn't have worried - they treat the music with the respect it deserves and bring out the flavour and groove of reggae at the same time. The whole experience for some reason, feels so natural...

...well, for me at least. In some respects, this album is the culmination of something I had always wanted to do. You see, around the time I was 16, the reggae bug bit. Like the Funk bug that caught me at age 18, it bit hard. For a few months, everything I played on my guitar had that "skank" rhythm to it. Whether it was the hymns in music class at school, or Beatles songs, I played them all with that staccato, clipped, choppy, on-the-off-beat rhythm. I had even worked out my own reggae arrangements of "Day Tripper" and "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". I played them once for my then-girlfriend's father (the Kinks fan in 100 LPs #24) - he thought I was being sacriligious.

However, Easy Star have worked out something that I felt all along - that not only are the rhythms of reggae incredibly infectious, and also that The Beatles' songs were so well written that you can apply a reggae arrangment, or almost any arrangement, to them and they still sound good. Master songwriters can only achieve that.

So here for your listening pleasure is Easy Star All-stars doing the complete album of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, eloquently renamed "Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band":


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