Following up on the hugely successful reggae tribute albums of Dub Side of the Moon (2003), Radiodread (2006) and Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band (2009) comes the reggae adaptation of the greatest selling record of all time – Michael Jackson's Thriller. The album, titled Easy Star's Thrillah will be released August 28, 2012 (a day before the 53rd anniversary of Jackson's birth). Easy Star's Thrillah brings back several of the reggae stars from previous albums, such as vocalists Michael Rose (Black Uhuru), Steel Pulse, Luciano, Mojo Morgan (Morgan Heritage), alongside the diverse playing of guests Yossi Fine (David Bowie, Lou Reed, Stanley Jordan), Joe Tomino (Dub Trio/Matisyahu), Andy Farag (Umphrey's McGee), and horn tracks courtesy of Israel's highly-acclaimed funk/hip-hop band Hadag Nachash. The album will be preceded by the July 10th digital release of the Billie Jean EP, which includes two album tracks, along with non-album remixes and a dub version.
In selecting Thriller, Easy Star Records co-founder Lem Oppenheimer says, "We've always tackled the greats - The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead - but while we wanted to take on another huge album, we also wanted to blaze new trails. In Thriller we found those new trails in a number of firsts for the series: the first album by an American artist, the first non-concept album, the first R&B/soul record, as well as the first release from the 80s."
"For me, I was most excited for Thriller," says producer/arranger/guitarist Michael Goldwasser. "I was always more of an R&B/soul and reggae kid growing up and I have an intense personal connection to Michael Jackson's music." As usual, the process initially involved Goldwasser spending a few months on arranging the songs. "Writing the arrangements for this album was a cool challenge. I didn't have to try to make non-dance music into dance music as on our previous albums because the original Thriller is so danceable already, but I needed to find ways to make each song groove in a different way from the original version. I didn't want any of the arrangements to be obvious in that regard." In the end, Goldwasser's arrangements are some of the most interesting in his career.
Now that the hard work in the studio is done, the band is looking forward to bringing this music on the road, adding some dance/pop songs to their already varied sets. The band's live show, which was nominated for a UK Festy Award in 2009, already features tracks from the band's previous three tribute albums, along with original material. An extensive fall tour of the US and UK is already set up (US dates listed below), with more to come over the next year. As the original Thriller album comes up on its 30-year anniversary in November, what better way to celebrate this timeless album than to catch the Easy Star All-Stars perform their reggae-infused versions of this pop masterpiece.