Easy Star All-Stars’ latest tribute album Thrillah debuted at #1 on Billboard Reggae and on iTunes reggae charts on August 28th. The success of previous albums such as Dub Side of the Moon, Radiodread, and Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band have paved the way for the New York City group to conceptualize and recreate Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It is no easy task to create a tribute album of musical greats like Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and The Beatles, much less Michael Jackson. However, Easy Star adapted Thriller in a fresh and imaginative way, while also maintaining the integrity of the original album. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Thrillah is that anyone can sing along to classic favorites while also hearing the album with new ears. The arrangements are creative yet subtle enough to keep the familiar musical elements in tact. What’s more, Easy Star selected an all star lineup of musicians to be featured on the album.
“Baby Be Mine” features The Green on the upbeat track offering clean falsettos and harmonies. Of course “The Girl is Mine” features Mojo Morgan (Morgan Heritage) and Steele Pulse, only some of the most legendary names in Reggae. As “Thriller” begins, there is an unmistakable eeriness which leads right into performances by featured vocalists, Mickey General and Spragga Benz. There are many cool musical elements including the sharp riddim section, the subtle melodica presence, and the way that the track was slowed down a bit, but maintained a groovy dance beat.
If the new arrangements don’t have you convinced, perhaps hearing Michael Rose (Black Uhuru) and Luciano will. The downtempo and dubby version of “Beat It” features Michael Rose’s signature vocal stylings, while the horns and guitar melodies add nice supportive touches throughout the track. Luciano sings with conviction in “Billie Jean,” perhaps the most transformed song on the album. The combination of Luciano’s voice, the steady basslines played by Ras I Ray, and the overall dub engineering makes this track a natural hit.
Cas Haley follows up with a sweet and sensitive version of “Human Nature.” The basslines, drumming, horns, and smooth harmonies are all on point. Female vocalist, Kristi Rock brings up the tempo and funk in “P.Y.T.” offering a fun, danceable twist on the song. Finally, Christopher Martin closes Thrillah with a sweet and sexy dub version of “The Lady In My Life” sure to make you feel good.
Though some might be skeptical of tribute bands that seek to remake legendary albums, Thrillah demonstrates utmost respect for the King of Pop, while offering a new perspective. The overall sound quality and production is impressive, fun and creative. Whether you’re a die-hard Michael Jackson fan or reggae enthusiast, this album will not disappoint music and dance lovers. – Gabriela Barbosa
Don’t miss an Easy Star All-Star performance near you! Tour dates can be found in the links below.