Easy Star All-Stars - First Light
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If you’re one of the few that are unaware of Easy Star All-Stars, a quick 101 necessitates mention that their debut tribute album to Pink Floyd Dub Side Of The Moon has sold in excess of 300,000 copies and the Beatles tribute Lonely Hearts Dub Band from 2009 cracked the Billboard 200 twice - the first reggae album to do that in 2 years! And don’t forget the version of Radiodread homage to Thom Yorke and the rest of the crew.
So whilst they have manage to record these albums with reggae “royalty” including Luciano, Frankie Paul, The Mighty Diamonds, Max Romeo, Sugar Minott (RIP), U Roy, Michael Rose and many more. I always thought that they could replicate these albums live with their own All-Star co-op is even more impressive (and they were fantastic the first time I saw them at the Larmer Tree Festival a few years ago).
That said, with all these classic cover versions I did think what would be next? The Jam, Stone Roses or even Primal Scream? It’s not sounding good is it? Or would reggae classic like Catch A Fire or Two Sevens Clash be even more risky?
So it’s a pleasant surprise that First Light is a 14 track album of Easy Star All-Stars originals!
‘Don’t Stop The Music’ is a typically happy upbeat reggae dub in a Third World stylee of “non-stop reggae music” groove which sounds particularly good if you live in North Europe of intermiten rain doing flat roof asphalting job.
And talking of good, one of the trademark Easy Street All-Stars traits is that the female vocals are so stop-on so there’s no surprise that Joanne Williams steals the show on ‘Break Of Dawn’, ‘Universal Law’ and ‘In The Light’ and the long time “All-Star” Kirsty Rock kills it on the title track and ‘All The Way’.
As much as I love Joanne, there’s potentially a mighty fine dub of ‘First Light’ on the Bruford O’Sullivan trombone tip if nothing else.
‘One Little Draw’ is a rather sweet pro-ganga tune, ‘Police And Thieves’ meets chalise roots and in a more Bob style, Menny More and Michael Goldwasser (guitar and leader) join forces for ‘Something Went Wrong’.
Their own tribute track, ‘Easy Now Star’ features The Mediatations, Tony Tuff and Lady Ann (Lady Ann showing a nice turn of dancehall foot)
Occasionally they slip in some raggamuggin (‘Paid My Dues’) but this is very old skool reggae and in this house, there’s nowt wrong with that.
I missed them at Big Chill Festival last year (as they clashed with jazz legend Pharoah Sanders) and on Friday (as they clashed selecter legend David Rodigan) but they are constantly on tour and you’d be daft to miss them and get the album.
Reviewed: Easy Star All-Stars - First Light (Easy Star Records) Cat. No: ES1025 Release date: 5th April 2011
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