Even after listening to it nearly a dozen times, I’m not quite sure just how I feel about Easy All-Stars’ latest album, a reggaefication of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, Easy Star’s Thrillah. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the album, mind you. This is a smart and lovingly crafted homage to an iconic album, which is something the Easy All-Stars do exceedingly well.
Previously, the All-Stars have offered us their take on such iconic albums as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Radiohead’s OK Computer, and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – all of which were stellar releases. The Pink Floyd covers album, Dub Side of the Moon was so well received in fact, that it was eventually followed by a sequel of sorts in Dubber Side of the Moon.
Aside from their one album of original songs, First Light, the previous “cover” albums that the All-Stars have released were all based on concept albums, which might be a bit of what feels slightly off to me in this new release. Maybe the structure of a continuing story thanks to the original artist’s album allowed the All-Stars to provide a glimpse of the story from a different angle. With no story to tie it all together, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is perhaps simply something I wasn’t looking for an alternative take on.
The songs themselves are fun and incredibly well produced, from the funky double-drum dubstyling of “Beat it,” the soft languid flow of “Billie Jean” and down to the closing track, a horn-sprinkled “Close to Midnight,” which stylistically stretches out one killer phrase into a seductive swirl of a song.
I love the band, the guest artists, and the individual songs. I love the idea of them taking on a true pop music genius and giving me a look at his songs through reggae-tinted glasses. I’m not sure that I love, however, the need to only focus on this one album as a whole instead of, perhaps, a wider spectrum of songs that take a look at Michael Jackson’s overall career.
I’m not sure where my reservations are coming from concerning this album as a whole, really. I just don’t know. What I do know is that I cannot deny how good each of these individual songs are. On their own, they are all well worth listening to – as is evidenced by the fact that I cannot stop doing so – and spending your hard-earned money on.
Whatever weird feelings I have of why I like this album instead of truly loving it as I did, say, the All-Stars’ Dub Side of the Moon, are at least ones I’m capable of admitting may just be a brain fart of my own creation. There may be nothing wrong at all with this album to other ears.
If all of the songs are good and worth listening to and the album itself has been played many, many times, perhaps that’s all I should really ask of it. This is a solid album by a very good band and maybe I’m just tired and looking for a reason to whine.
Buy it. Listen to it. Come back and tell me if I’m on to something or if my review needs to “Beat it.”
Even with my waffling, this album is an easy 7/10.