Easy Star All-Stars

Radiodread

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AllMusic Review by

When a pair of New York-based musicians (Michael G. and Ticklah) calling themselves the Easy Star All-Stars came out in 2003 with Dub Side of the Moon, an all-reggae interpretation of Pink Floyd's rock monster Dark Side of the Moon, there were no expectations among an audience and thus no reason for skepticism. The album's reputation built steadily and the newly converted -- thousands bought the album and talked it up to others -- naturally wondered what would come next. After much deliberation, the All-Stars settled on Radiohead's 1997 masterpiece OK Computer, an obvious choice in hindsight (some consider Radiohead a 21st century Floyd), as beloved in its own time (and, undoubtedly, for many years to come) as Dark Side was decades earlier. Still, months before its release, some die-hard Radiohead fans were condemning the idea of Radiodread -- not to mention its campy title -- how could anyone dare mess with perfection? It was assumed by some that the reggae musicians would turn this monumental work into a parody, or render its often complex structures and moods unlistenable at the least. Turns out they had nothing to fear: the Easy Star All-Stars not only treat OK Computer with the respect it merits, they successfully re-imagine it, creating a work of art that, while it may never earn the over-the-top critical plaudits enjoyed by the source material, should find favor with both Radiohead loyalists and roots reggae purists alike. It couldn't have been easy, but the All-Stars make it sound so. Each tune is reconsidered on its own terms, with guest vocalists -- among them reggae giants such as Horace Andy (opener "Airbag"), Morgan Heritage ("Electioneering"), Toots & the Maytals (a very upbeat "Let Down") and Israel Vibration (album-closing "The Tourist") -- bringing a personal stamp to each tune. How each of these vocalists chooses to handle Thom Yorke's keening, facile vocals is worth a study in itself -- some virtually mimic him while others throw out the mold and come at the material from a completely outsider perspective. Ditto the arrangements: OK Computer's tricky time shifts and layers of electronics and ambient sounds could, in lesser hands, add up to a complete muck-up, but instead Radiodread emerges as its own, quite satisfying entity. It may be sacrilege to even think so, but it's possible that some listeners unable to warm up to Radiohead may even come to prefer this OK Computer from an alternative universe.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 5:00 SpotifyAmazon
2 6:27 SpotifyAmazon
3 4:41 SpotifyAmazon
4 4:23 SpotifyAmazon
5 4:44 SpotifyAmazon
6 4:48 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:20 SpotifyAmazon
8 4:34 SpotifyAmazon
9 4:56 SpotifyAmazon
10 4:02 SpotifyAmazon
11 5:45 SpotifyAmazon
12 4:07 SpotifyAmazon
13 4:39
14 4:50 Amazon
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