Brimming with lively horns and energetic arrangements, the Easy Star All-Stars’ version of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a cheerful record perfect for a summer Red Stripe on the patio or just lazing around the house.
Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band reworks and re-imagines The Beatles’ classic with adventurousness and cunning, poking horns and sweet keys into all the right areas and adding just the right touches of sunlight.
The Easy Star All-Stars have been down the dub music road before, reworking Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon into Dub Side of the Moon and taking on Radiohead with 2006’s Radiodread. The Beatles were an obvious next step, as the psychedelic grandeur of Sgt. Pepper’s is an ideal fit for the exquisite sound of the All-Stars.
The musical instigator behind Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band is Michael Goldwasser. His arrangements are exhilarating, adding rich texture to the original songs and bringing that exceptional reggae gusto. Goldwasser also plays guitar and produced the record.
Now, an admission: The Beatles are not my strong suit. I know the songs, sure, but I’ve never really known all of the ins and outs of the band and wouldn’t really consider myself a fan. That’s not to say that John, Paul, George, and Ringo didn’t construct some of the most important music of all time, or that they didn’t influence music more profoundly than perhaps any other musical group in history, of course. But for whatever reason, I was never too captured by the quartet.
That panting admission aside, these are some bloody incredible songs and the Easy Star All-Stars work their magic on them with a host of guest vocalists and a taut band.
The opening number, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” rocks with guest Junior Jazz and original background crowd sample. It’s a fun song, introducing the various new versions with class and nerve. After all, touching these Beatles’ tunes is no easy task and the potential for derision is huge.