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Rasta renegades take the Michael; EASY STAR ALL-STARS ALBUM OF THE WEEK THRILLAH (EASY STAR).

THEY'VE dismantled some iconic albums in their time, re-inventing the classics with a reggae infusion.

Back in 2003, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon was almost eclipsed by Dub Side Of The Moon. In 2006, they had the effrontery to retune Radiohead's OK Computer, rebranding it Radiodread. The Beatles followed in 2009, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band swaying to the Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band beat. Now the late Michael Jackson's Thriller gets some spice island sunshine.

And, yes, it's a real Thrillah. This collective, comprising a rotating roster of musicians on New York's Easy Star label, has taken Jacko's masterpiece and given it a rum punch cocktail of reggae rhythms, dub beats and tight horns.

At the helm is Michael Goldwasser, who plays guitar, keyboards and percussion and sings. Not content with that, he does all the programming, arranges and produces all the albums and generally keeps the band organised.

"I was excited to take on Thriller," he says. "Writing the arrangements for the album was a cool challenge. I didn't have to try to turn it into dance music - like we had to on our previous albums - because Thriller is so danceable already.

"But I needed to make each song groove in a different way from Michael's version. I didn't want any of the arrangements to be obvious in that regard, and we use no samples from the original at all."

Best is Thriller itself, which sounds as if it should have had a reggae beat in the first place. London-born Mikey General and Jamaican dancehall DJ Spragga Benz provide the vocals, the latter delivering those Vincent Price lines rasta-style.

There's also a deep dub version of the song, titled Close To Midnight, which is an ear-opener.

Elsewhere, Billie Jean goes dub, Beat It gets a reggae refurb and Steel Pulse guest on The Girl Is Mine.

The only time it doesn't really work is on opener Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'.

Ooverall it's a blend of some of pop's best-loved songs and that irresistible reggae beat that will win you over. PC
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 26, 2012
Words:347
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