Easy Star All-Stars – Dubber Side of the Moon

Easy Star All-Stars - Dubber Side of the Moon

In 2003 Easy Star All-Stars released Dub Side of the Moon, a dub-style remix of one of the greatest rock albums of all time, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I was skeptical at first, as I am with most contemporary attempts at remixes of great albums, but was hooked before the end of “Speak to Me/Breathe”.  Now, E.S. All-Stars hit us with yet another remix, Dubber Side of the Moon, featuring some of the heavies of the modern dub era.

First up, with a conga heavy start interspersed with bubbling bong noises, is Canadian dub artist Dubmatix and his version of “Speak to Me/Breathe”. Tight keyboard and horn work give this piece a great classic reggae/dub feel, while retaining the essence of the original song. Much like the work it is based off of, this track leads seamlessly into “On the Run”, a rolling, bass-heavy remix courtesy of Boston’s own 10 Ft. Ganja Plant. Next up is “Time”, reinvented by electro/dub duo Groove Corporation out of the U.K. Having previously worked with reggae rhythm masters Mighty Tree, and with reggae music in general for most of their musical career, a collaboration with GC for this album was a no-brainer and, as with all of the tracks here, works to great effect. “Time”, of course, slips away and heads upward to Dubphonic‘s take on “Great Gig in the Sky”. Peppered with trippy effects, though still using the original vocal tracks from Clare Torry on Dark Side…, this track has a great flow to it, and, as it has been for nearly forty years, marks well the mid-point of the album.

“Money” kicks off the second half of the album with synth-bass and tight, but sparse, drum work amidst the sound of bong hits and coughing fits. With remix duties here handled by All-Star’s resident soundman The Alchemist, the lyrical delivery, obviously, departs from the original and mid-way through the song we get a dub-Jah-I-Jah breakdown before that previously sparse drumwork picks up and rides us out for the remainder of the song alongside the original lyrics. “Money” rides right on into “Us and Them”, reworked by UK dubsters Dreadzone. This is a pretty straightforward version of this song, with the biggest remix being on the percussion side of things, while still holding nice keyboard melodies and keeping the sax as with the original Pink Floyd version. Tel-Aviv based Kalbata (aka Ariel Tagar) stepped up for a remix of “Any Colour You Like”, giving it a bit more of an electronica tinged dub vibe than other tracks found on Dubber Side… The album heads into some mellower territory for the two remixes that end the album “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”. Adrian Sherwood and Jazzwad, out of the UK, throw down a chill, classic reggae feel on “Brain Damage” as does Victor Rice on “Eclipse”; though Rice puts across a bit of an R&B feel with the early drumwork on the track before it breaks into more reggae/dub territory. Great closers for the album – but how can you not finish strong when you have such talented artists giving a fresh treatment to incredible and timeless source material?

We then get treated to four bonus tracks by Border Crossing (UK) (“Step it Pon the Rastaman Scene”), Mad Professor (UK) (“Money”), Michael G. (from the Easy Star All-Stars) (“Time Version”) , and J.Viewz (Brooklyn, USA) (“On the Run”). These bonus tracks are an interesting supplement to the main album, but also stand well on their own.

Now, as I said at the beginning of this review, I’m usually skeptical when it comes to “tribute” or “remix” albums, but as a fan of Pink Floyd and reggae/dub/dancehall/bluebeat/ska, this album has it all – great songwriting (obviously), great arrangements and a fresh, interesting take on a classic album.