While I was covering John Brown’s Body and the Easy Star All Stars at Brooklyn Bowl, I received an email from an Argentine reggae musician, producer and promotor, who recently released a three album reggae tribute to the Beatles titled Hemp! : A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles, Vol. 2. The three disc album. is the follow-up to El Album Verde: A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles, released back in 2005, an album that had reggae bands across Latin America covering Beatles tunes, and included the legendary pioneers of Ska music, Jamaica’s the Skatalites.
Hemp! includes Beatles covers from 56 reggae bands from 16 different countries including the likes of the world-renowned Steel Pulse, Don Carlos, Ali Campbell, Groundation, Sly and Robbie, Yellowman, Mad Professor and others, as well as some of Latin America’s most popular reggae crews, including Los Cafres, Cultura Profetica, Los Pericos and others.
The Argentine reggae outfit, La Zimbabwe, along with Los Pericos are considered the pioneers of the reggae movement in their native Argentina. And from listening to La Zimbabwe’s breezy cover of one of my favorite Beatles songs, “Back in the USSR,” a couple of things should be reaffirmed in your mind: the Beatles are universally beloved; that reggae has a message that’s universally applied and beloved; and that the world needs a few more good reggae versions of the Beatles.
And interestingly enough, the compilation does contain a message – that hemp is a wonderful, wonderful plant and it’s variety of uses can solve many of the world’s big problems. But more importantly, the proceeds of the album will be used to help build a water well for the Shipibo people in Pucallpa, Peru, the heart of Amazon – in particular, the well will be build for a soup kitchen to feed the children of that community. How can anyone go wrong? We’re talking about the Beatles, hemp and clean, potable water to help feed children. All pretty cool to me.
For more information check this video out:
It might help if you know a little Spanish.