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Various Artists (Tributes) - Easy Star All-Stars: Dub Side Of The Moon (Pink Floyd) CD (album) cover

EASY STAR ALL-STARS: DUB SIDE OF THE MOON (PINK FLOYD)

Various Artists (Tributes)

 

Various Genres

3.11 | 19 ratings

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Joolz
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "There is no dub side of the moon: as a matter of fact, it's h'all dub"

If you are a purist Pink Floyd fan who thought the Scissor Sisters version of Comfortably Numb was sacrilege, then it is probably best you skip to something else. If, however, you are excited by the possibilities of experimenting across disparate musical boundaries then this might be of interest to you.

Lem Oppenheimer of the Easy Star record label had the idea for this album in 1999 while walking through downtown New York listening to Dark Side Of The Moon on a Walkman, but it was not until 2003 that it was finally completed and released. Featuring a selection of the label's reggae and dub artists, it began as an experiment but they soon realised it might be an innovative way of introducing reggae to a new audience. It is debatable whether they achieved this, but they certainly have created an intriguing work which deserves to be heard. Rather than simply create reggae versions of the songs, they tried "to get to the heart of the piece and turn it into something that might have been recorded this way in some parallel universe". Thus, the arrangements follow the originals, and they were careful to include elements like spoken voiceovers and sound effects but with some important twists.

DSOTM always begins with a heartbeat, some sound effects and manic laughter before breaking into Breathe. So does this one. Breathe is rendered faithfully over a lilting reggae beat, before giving way to the familiar 'running' synth line of On The Run. This soon turns into a drum and bass beat overlaid with synths but it doesn't really develop any further and is probably the least successful track. A ticking clock must mean Time is on the horizon, but not before the alarms go off - cuckoo clock, cock crow and other jokey ones. You are still smiling when the track proper begins with a lovely rock intro based on the original, before suddenly kicking into a foot tapping reggae beat when the vocal begins. You wonder how they are going to cope with Gilmour's soloing, but no worries as this is replaced by some toasting. This would be my favourite song here as the arrangement suits the song and Ranking Joe sings in a very mournful way. Great Gig more or less follows the familiar tune but is much more free-form. While the 'Clare Torry' vocal is quite different here, and not as orgasmic, it nevertheless works well.

Pink Floyd gave us rhythmical cash registers - Easy Star gives us rhythmical smoker's coughing! The main part of Money is sung fairly straight, backed by a reggae beat of course, and it has a lovely sax solo drenched in echo. Where this version varies significantly is the section where the original suddenly picks up by moving into 4/4 time - instead we get some more toasting before it returns to the main vocal theme. Us And Them begins with some nice atmospheric keyboards leading to the reggae beat, a little vocal improvising and a sax solo, before entering the main vocal. This is sung faithfully, complete with the us-us-us echo treatment, and even with the unfamiliar beat, they set up a lovely groove and somehow seem to retain the dreamy feel of the original. Any Colour You Like retains the basic synth line, underpinned by the dub, and with the guitar solo replaced by horns. Brain Damage is slower and sparser, played to a lazy beat which just fails to evoke the majesty of the original. Eclipse is played out over some Nyabinghi drumming to fade.

The four bonus tracks are alternative versions and mixes: Time Version is a re-mix with the vocal replaced by melodica, while the other three are much more extreme dub versions and bear little resemblance to the originals.

I love this album because it is different. Others will hate it because it is different. Each to his own I guess but you might find it an entertaining alternative.

Joolz | 3/5 |

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