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Reggae version of Pink Floyd classic Dark Side Of The Moon, performed by the Easy Star All Stars.

Released on Easy Star Records on February 18th 2003, catalogue number: ES1012. Review by Matt Johns, Brain Damage, February 2003.

Dub Side Of The Moon - a reggae version of Pink Floyd's classicWith perfect timing to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary celebrations of Pink Floyd's classic, Dark Side Of The Moon, comes this ambitious, authentic and even amusing reinvention.

Using the pick of the reggae and soul community, who spent over three years on the work, Dub Side Of The Moon is one of the more outrageous attempts at reworking Floyd tunes that has come along over the years. And it works fantastically well! It might seem sacriligious to some, but I think this is a great album! A fantastic job has been done from beginning to end. If you are a purist, hate cover bands, cover versions, and the like, you will probably hate this. If, however, you enjoy hearing fresh versions of old favourites, I urge you to check this out...

The idea came about in 1999 when New York reggae label vice president Lem Oppenheimer convinced his colleagues that this was a viable concept to cover. He imagined it would "echo Dark Side's album artwork - refracting Pink Floyd's music vision through a prism of reggaes's rich rhythmic and instrumental possibilities". Gathering some of the best musicians of their genre, the producers have approached the work seriously - so seriously in fact, that the (alleged) Wizard Of Oz syncronicity apparently works throughout!

Nyabinghi drumming kicks off the album, along with the heartbeat (this bookends the album). Speak To Me, with re-recorded comments (every sound, voice, whatever - has been rerecorded in an appropriate style) moves into a nice version of Breathe, easing the listener gently into the different sound given to this very familiar work. A great vocal as well from Sluggy Ranks.

A kicking drum'n'bass version of On The Run follows. The style fits this fairly timeless synth heavy track well. The song climaxes, then some very funny alarm clocks herald the start of Time. The opening (once the chimes have subsided) plays down the normal rototom drum solo, David Gilmour's solos have been replaced by some toasting, which works well. The song seems none the worse for the lack of guitars...

Great Gig In The Sky has been done really well - lovely, atmospheric, and a soulful vocal from Kirsty Rock. Money then kicks off - no cash registers but the sound of bongs (apparently - not that I would know) which puts a smile on the face. Musically, the song is very similar to the original. The vocal is provided by Gary "Nesta" Pine and Dollarman, who provides the effective toasting that replaces David's traditional solo.

Up next, Us and Them. A nice, uplifting bass line and a pretty faithful sax performance. Frankie Paul does a pretty straight reading of this track, just adding a touch of his own interpretation. Like Money, not a huge departure from the original. Us And Them blends into another faithful (if reggae flavoured) reading of Any Colour You Like, with David's solo replaced effectively with horns.

A stripped down Brain Damage follows, with Dr Israel sounding like he's singing through a megaphone in places, which naturally leads to Eclipse, which to my mind is the least successful rendering on the album. For what should be the climax, it seems poorly paced, particularly vocally, and muted. However, the Nyabinghi drumming that leads out, nicely wraps things up.

There are four bonus tracks - and they enter heavy dub territory! You get Time, which starts like a Zabriskie outtake, before heading into an instrumental, dub version. Great Gig In The Sky gives you more of the same but with some awesome bass. A great version! Finally, you have Step It Pon The Rastaman Scene/Any Dub You Like, which is based on Any Colour You Like but dramatically different, with a nice vocal by Ranking Joe.

It is a sign of a great piece of music that it can be covered in different ways successfully - think about the many ways that Lennon & McCartney songs have been covered; Dark Side is arguably the pinnacle of Pink Floyd's career. To still be so respected thirty years on, and in this case, in a completely different music community, is a sign of Dark Side's enduring quality and appeal.

As a concept, it sounds like it just shouldn't work - but it does. Their obvious respect and love for the original shines through and ensures the album stands up to repeated playings. This is no "interesting novelty" that a project like this could be in danger of becoming. Go on - give it a try. You'll be missing a treat if you don't!

The CD can be ordered from all normal retailers, or from one of the following branches of Amazon: UK, USA, Canada, France, or Germany.

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