One of the most mentally stimulating discs that showed up on my desk all year was Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band, a spin-off of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. If you know anything about the Easy Star All-Stars, they're known for taking classic, seemingly untouchable albums, and giving them a distinct Jamaican dub appeal. They're the same folks who caught a buzz in 2003 for making Dub Side of the Moon, which essentially took all of the tracks on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and, well, dubbed them out.
While their next project didn't garner as much attention, Radiodread, a remake of Radiohead's OK Computer, was even more adventurous considering how protective Radiohead is of their materieal. So when an approved remake of Sgt. Peppers showed up a few months ago, I was beyond intrigued at how in the hell these guys convinced the protectors of the Beatle's catalog to let a reggae band rework their material. It would be one thing if they just went in and flipped it Danger Mouse/Grey Album style without the intentions of turning a profit. But this album is for sale everywhere, and aside from being really good, it's ballsy as hell.
I got on the phone with Lem Oppenheimer, co-owner of Easy Star Records to ask him specifically if all the material was cleared ahead of time and he said yes. He wouldn't discuss the financial specifics that were agreed upon, but it seems like the Easy Star All-Star's aren't going to make a lot of money off of the record itself, but rather through touring in support of it.
The band plays a show at Neumos tonight and if you want to support a group of bold reggae musicians who lead with their creativity and aren't afraid to take on corporate giants like EMI, these are the guys to come out and watch. Tickets for tonight's show are $15 and doors are 8 p.m. If you've never heard an Easy Star cover, check out their version of "With a Little Help From My Friends" below featuring Luciano, and compare it to the original. It's different in all the right ways, but dead-on still.