Wednesday, 21 November 2007

covered inglory #1: easy star allstars, 'no surprises'

three factors ensured that the easy star allstars' radiodread: a reggae tribute to ok computer rose above the status of summer 2006 blog novelty.

first was the quality of the source material - ok computer was the last great radiohead album, the last one that felt human and that mined interesting tension between the human and the mechanical, the last one that you could enjoy without buying into the myth of radiohead as 'transcendant' artistic visionaries.

second was the quality of the allstars themselves - featuring accomplished musicians such as horace andy, toots & the maytals, and on 'no surprises', the meditations. all of whom contributed to giving the project a warm, joyful, cohesive feel that works against the bleak textures of the original. the allstars' previous album, dub side of the moon, recognised that the vast, booming spaces in pink floyd's music would appeal as much to a reggae fan as to a prog-happy audiophile. as johnny greenwood's work with trojan records attests, there's something in radiohead's studio wizardry, fractured compositions, and underlying soulfulness that translates just as well.

third was the wit and intelligence of the project. both dub side and radiodread took middle-class white complaint-rock and relocated it in a working class black context that most listeners (and most middle class white musicians) feel has much greater authenticity. just as pink floyd unexpectedly became the soundtrack of choice for iranian dissidents a few years back, so radiohead's fears of mechanised language, "jobs that slowly kill you", and politics as marketing took on more weight, purpose and irony than was present in the originals.

apparently easy star are working on a follow-up. i vote the soft bulletin.

easy star allstars - 'no surprises'

bonus covers

radiohead do pink floyd. isn't that clever?

radiohead & sparklehorse - 'wish you were here'

ska pink floyd!

bim skala bim - 'brain damage'

previously on covered inglory

berkeley place's covers of the century

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