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CD Review: Easy Star All-Stars 'Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band'

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Friday, May 29, 2009

EASY STAR ALL-STARS "Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band"

Kindred Spirits: Beatles, Smithereens

Shows: Wednesday at Rams Head Live. Doors open at 7 p.m. 410-244-1131. http://www.ramsheadlive.com. Thursday at the 9:30 club. Doors open at 7 p.m. 202-265-0930. http://www.930.com.

The best way to appreciate "Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band" by the Easy Star All-Stars is to hit play and listen. Don't compare the cover photo with the Beatles' 1967 landmark album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Don't ponder how Easy Star could remake of one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Just listen.

Although the music is treated with reverence, it's spiced up for a new generation, with cranked-up percussion and horns and reggae-infused vocals.

That's not to say every song is a home run. Kristy Rock's peppy rendition of "She's Leaving Home" sounds like an airport lounge singer's take on the classic. Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu sings George Harrison's "Within You Without You," but his vocals don't have the right enchanting qualities.

But most of the music is luscious. Standouts include Steel Pulse's "Good Morning Good Morning" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," which Ranking Roger gives a darker vocal turn.

Some might think remaking "Sgt. Pepper's" is akin to tampering with the Mona Lisa. But it's really a way to wipe the cobwebs off a classic and polish it so it will be rediscovered.

-- Nancy Dunham


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