As a disclaimer, from the start I am susceptible to Beatles covers. I thoroughly enjoyed the soundtrack to Across the Universe, the Beatles-based rock-opera film that some Beatles purists (and general movie critics) hated on pretty hard. Perhaps it’s because I never grew up listening to The Beatles, a band many consider the greatest ever… and maybe duly so. I just don’t know the guys well enough, haven’t learned a deep appreciation for them, and so, in my mind, they’re malleable.
All that being said, the Easy Star All-Stars deserve some credit. A lot of it. The reggae band has tackled covers by other great artists such as Radiohead, Pink Floyd (with albums Radiodread and Dub Side of the Moon, respectively), as well as three original albums (which I have not yet heard). (I can, however, personally attest to Dub Side’s dopeness.) With sweet, beating bass and creative reimagining’s, Easy Star is always somewhere between mellow and Mars.
For example, the Rita from Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band doesn’t take tea, she smokes it. Herein lies the reason why Easy Star’s version is being posted in place of The Beatles. Where The Beatle’s rendition of Rita is bouncy, limp with kazoo, and boring, Easy Star grooves the song into an underwater funk fest, full of energetic saxophone. Reverb turns Bunny Rugs’ catcalls into interstellar invitations; an anchor of buoyant baseline ensures a highly sensual experience. I’m sure Lovely Rita fits Sgt. Pepper’s ascetic perfectly, but as a song standing alone, Easy Star easily wins the day.