Founded and led by producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Michael Goldwasser, Easy Star All-Stars have established themselves as one of the top reggae acts on the international scene for the better part of the past two decades. During that period, they’ve managed to tour in over 30 countries on six continents while bringing together fans of reggae, classic rock, dub, indie rock and pop into one big family through their collection of critically acclaimed reggae tribute albums that includes 2003’s Dub Side of the Moon, 2006’s Radiodread, 2009’s Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band and 2012’s Easy Star’s Thrillah — and 2010’s remix album, Dubber Side of the Moon. And before you go off and think that they’re just a tribute band, they’re not; they’ve also released two efforts of original material, 2008’s Until That Day EP and 2011’s First Light.
Continuing their run of reggae tribute albums across classic rock, dub, indie rock and pop, the acclaimed local reggae outfit will tackle David Bowie‘s beloved classic, 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. Slated for an April 21, 2023 release through their own Easy Star Records, Ziggy Stardub is a reggae re-imagining of the beloved album, featuring guest spots from Macy Gray, Steel Pulse, Maxi Priest, Fishbone, Living Colour‘s Vernon Reid, The Skints, Mortimer, The Expanders, Samory I, and a lengthy list of others.
Pre-order packages of the album are available here, including royal blue colored vinyl along with CD and exclusive t-shirt offerings.
In the lead-up to Ziggy Stardub‘s release on Thursday, I’ve written about three of the album’s previously released singles:
- “Starman,” featuring Maxi Preist. The Easy Star All-Star rendition is a warm and soulful dub take on the original that retains the rousingly anthemic hook everyone and their grandmother knows but places it within a shuffling, reggae riddim paired with warm blasts of Rhodes, some cinematic strings and Maxi Priest’s effortlessly soulful delivery.
- “Moonage Daydream,” featuring Naomi Cowan and the legendary Alex Lifeson. The Easy Star All-Star rendition “Moonage Daydream” is a hazy dub-leaning take that makes loving nods to the original, with a full string seciton and a flute solo from Jenny Hill, that takes the place of Bowie’s recorder solo from the original. Cowan contributes a soulful, rock goddess vocal that I’d argue would make both Bowie and Tina Turner very proud. The song closes out with a trippy and inspired David Gilmour-like guitar solo from the legendary Lifeson.
- “Five Years” featuring the legendary Steel Pulse. Rooted in a soulful and slow-burning reggae riddim, the Easy Star All-Stars rendition lovingly retains the soaring string-driven hooks and choruses, and the weary, apocalyptic sigh-like vibe of the original.
Ziggy Stardub‘s fourth and final pre-release single “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” features the acclaimed, multi-award-winning singer/songwriter, musician and producer Macy Gray. Pairing a deceptively laid-back vibe with strutting riddims and a coolly swaggering horn line with Macy Gray’s imitable and deeply sensitive delivery, the Easy Star All-Star rendition manages to retain the swooning and empathetic commiseration of the origin. Oh, how much all of us at one point or another, just needs to hear “Oh, no you’re not alone!”
“The main key was finding an emotive and groundbreaking vocalist, and we did just that with Macy Gray, who is truly inimitable in every song that she sings, including this one,” Easy Star All-Stars’ Goldwasser explains in press notes.
The Five Guys burger chain recently named Easy Star All-Stars as their Featured Artist of May. The chain will be playing an Easy Star track every hour in every store for the entire month.
Directed by Stefano Bertelli, the accompanying stop-animation video for “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” follows two stray street cats on a journey through a sleepy evening in an intricately made paper town.