Music News

Easy Star All-Stars

The concept of a track-for-track reggae version of Radiohead's OK Computer seems like the bong-hit daydreams of a lonesome stoner in a murky dorm room. But thanks to the Easy Star All-Stars (the masterminds behind 2003's Dub Side of the Moon), modern rock's most experimental and introspective band is paid homage by a ragtag amalgamation of Jamaican legends and genre newcomers. A survey of Radiodread's featured artists makes the project seem ill-advised; having the Godfathers of Ska, Toots Hibbert and the Maytals, pump their typical energy into the bleak lament "Let Down" appeared to be a particularly incongruous pairing. Ah, but fret not. Hibbert converts the dirge into a groovy ska anthem and injects the mournful lyrics with soul power. On "Electioneering," Morgan Heritage transforms the song into a super dubby rave-up that keeps the discordant guitars and ambient bleeps intact. Sugar Minott's take on "Exit Music (For a Film)" is as cool and deadly as one might imagine. Menny More reimagines "Fitter Happier" as a militant call to Rastafarian tenets. A few tracks fall flat, though — most notably Junior Jazz's "Subterranean Homesick Alien." But overall, these remakes should make Radiohead fans feel more like skanking and lighting a spliff than contemplating life's cruelty and slitting their wrists.

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Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik