Jamaica's indebtedness to the U.S. music scene has been long noted and acknowledged. R&B was the backbone of ska, Motown was well plundered during the rocksteady years, American pop fueled reggae, roots nodded to prog rock, while even dancehall had some tenuous links to hip-hop. Yet, Jamaican artists virtually ignored straight-up rock & roll. And while a guitar god like Eric Clapton covered Bob Marley and Mick Jagger dueted with Peter Tosh, this was pretty much a one-way street. That was until the Wailing Souls decided to turn the tables on the classic rock world. Psychedelic Souls delivers up covers of ten of the '60s' greatest hits by the Doors, Bob Dylan, the Who, Procol Harum, and so on down the list of the period's most glittering stars. Of course, any idiot can reggae-fy a rock song -- just substitute a one-drop rhythm -- but the Wailing Souls have something far more creative in mind. They were determined to reinvent the songs while simultaneously keeping the '60s' atmosphere intact. Donovan's magical "Mountain Song" is particularly inspired, set to the heaviest of rhythms, shot through with scything guitar solos, yet Spanish-laced acoustic guitar seeps through, helping the song maintain the lacy lightness of the original. "Love Her Madly" is delivered up, dare one say it, Two Tone style, but even as it reaches a crescendo of mad skanking, the psychedelic keyboards pull the song stateside. "My Sweet Lord" is remodeled Rasta-fashion through a slight rewrite of lyrics and nyabinghi drumming, "Whiter Shade of Pale" is served up in slowly simmering dancehall style, while "Love the One You're With" counterpoints dancehall beats with an acid trip's worth of psychedelic electronic effects. Out of time, but not out of place, is the group's own composition "War Down at the Pawnshop." This deeply cultural number, presented in heaviest roots fashion, features guest stars Sublime, and the soaring solo guitar slots nicely into the '60s theme. The acid test for a cover is that the listener never looks at the original in quite the same way again, and once one experiences Psychedelic Souls, the entire decade is guaranteed to appear in an entirely new light.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene