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.