Top critical review
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on 11 August 2006
After their successful reimagining of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon (called, of course, Dub Side Of The Moon), the Easy Star All-Stars wasted little time deliberating their next musical makeover. However, while they decided upon Ok Computer (possibly the closest equivalent of Pink Floyd's masterpiece of the last 20 years) relatively quickly, the project took two years to record.
However, under the watch of musical director Michael Goldwasser, the Easy Star All-Stars and their guests will surprise many with their earnest approach to tackling the source material. Radiodread is not the work of parody that its title might imply, but rather an honest and sincere take on one of the greatest albums of the last two decades.
Some of the tracks are attempted with a degree of authenticity, so Horace Andy stays relatively true to album opener, Airbag, and the Sugar Minott-featuring Exit Music (For A Film) attempts to match the original's uneasy excellence. It is Frankie Paul's vocals on Lucky, however, that come closest to capturing the claustrophobia of Thom Yorke's original performance.
Where Radiodread really succeeds is when the artists veer off course and leave their own mark on proceedings. Paranoid Android, of course, would always prove a taxing proposition, but Kirsty Rock's Yorke-aping vocals pass muster. However, it is the incredible backing from Buford O'Sullivan's trombone and Pam Fleming's trumpet that make the track such a tantalising proposition. It's not quite Johnny Greenwood's crashing and crunching guitar, but it's a slick and worthy alternative.
Elsewhere, Toots & The Maytals help turn Let Down into a joyous, Rastafarian rave that even Thom Yorke has publicly admitted to being fond of. Later, the organs on Karma Police completely alter the tone of the original song, and Ivan Katz's drum work on Electioneering is nothing short of exceptional. No Surprises with The Meditations is far more uptempo than in its original incarnation, as Yorke's keening, weary sigh is replaced by a roaring boast.
The sleeve notes are at pains to point out that no samples from OK Computer were used in the recording of the album and it's hard to believe otherwise, such is the organic and natural production of the album. OK Computer's time shifts and cold electronics could have made Radiodread a complete joke, but, like Dub Side Of The Moon before it, Radiodread emerges on its own terms as an entirely satisfying album.