Review Summary: Another Easy listening offer from perhaps the coolest cover band
If the Easy Star All-Star’s gimmick is something you just can’t wrap your head around, or the music they are conveying simply comes across as cheesy, you could probably save yourself some time by stopping reading. At this stage in the game, the reggae/dub group should be locked in with their fans; it being only a matter of time before the right album is covered to hook the new batch of listeners. Add the fact that the unit is now starting to record their own original material and things could be moving past the cover-band spectrum. That isn’t to say that this is an average cover-band though, churning out a carbon copy of an original song and making it theirs by upping the distortion. With the Easy Star’s, they not only truly seem to enjoy the music they are trying to re-work, but also seem to keep the recreation on key without really missing a step - all without sacrificing their own originality. The legitimacy of the above statement can undoubtedly be argued, as the criticisms for each of the band’s outings are mixed pretty evenly down the line.
For their third instalment (excluding the band’s EP of original work) the Easy Star All-Stars choose a classic rock staple, perhaps hoping to widen their audience, though still seemingly catering to a rock crowd, in the Beatles
classic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
. Twisting the original album title once again, the disc was renamed Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band
, and is a step-by-step recreation as seen through the eyes of dub and reggae music. From the moment of the original title-track’s first note, the attention to detail is clearly visible – even the vocalist tries his best to conjure Paul McCartney. What really helps the band here is how well their reggae twists seem to work with the original material. The fact that the Easy Star’s undoubtedly enjoy this album as fans themselves comes across so powerfully with this disc its hard to not have fun listening. A track-by-track analysis seems as pointless as talking about the original Beatles
album by this point – if this managed to draw your interest, I’m guessing you have already have a taste of things to come. The main difference that fans will notice is the obvious down-tempo style that comes with a reggae sound. Since Sgt. Pepper’s
wasn’t all that fast-paced to begin with, this does little to effect the overall flow of the product.
Despite its successes, Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band
isn’t a perfect re-creation. There are sure to be some fans of the original work that aren’t happy with the way their favourites ended up sounding. The classics Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds
and Getting Better
are decent tracks, but feel like let-downs when compared to the rest of the covers. This small stutter-step isn’t much to deal with, and I still think the majority of Beatles fans will appreciate the output. There are a myriad of guest appearances from mostly unknowns, save for Matisyahu
’s contribution to Within You Without You
. These extra players don’t get in the way or try to steal the spotlight at any point, as with the Easy Star’s, leaving the work of the Beatles at the forefront of attention.