Hemp! | A Reggae Tribute to The Beatles
album review by John Powell
Yes, six hours and three albums of reggae The Beatles is a strong dosage, but The Beatles’ songs lend themselves so wonderfully to reggae: the simple time signatures, chord progressions, and melodies seem meant for great reggae vocalists to take on. The best part of this three-course meal is the array of artists taking part. David Hinds, Don Carlos, Mad Professor, Cultura Profetica, and Rebelution all offer their versions of the classics.
There is, indeed, no bad song on the record. Credit The Beatles for writing such potent songs, or leave it to the artists for their renditions, but it’s a recipe for success. Ras Attitude and Oneness Band own “Yesterday”, with soothing horns and infusing the song with island energy. Groundation turns “Come Together” into a Nyabingi chant, which is such a creative adaptation of the kooky song.
Some songs really blow the rest out of the water, though. Cultura Profetica’s “All Things Must Pass” is magic. It starts the second disc and is gorgeous. The quiet synth and bubble rhodes fill out the instrumentation, and the vocal performance is heart-wrenching.
Rebelution’s “Please Please Me” barely reaches two minutes long, but is sweet and addicting, pure ear candy. Immediately following it is 10 Ft. Ganja Plant’s instrumental “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, and you never heard such a version. Another stellar latter-day Fab Four take is Destroy Babilon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows”. So raw and so good.
The end-all-be-all of this compilation, however, is Quique Neira and Dubie’s “Across The Universe”. Over five and a half minutes, the group unravels a sensual, cosmic version of the song. As a rock song, it pedals out as a precursor to prog-rock, but in reggae mode it glistens with love and light, coming off less sad and more lightening.
Please note: Proceeds from sales of this album will go to constructing a water-well for a soup kitchen in Pcallpa, Peru. You can’t ask for a better cause, and you really can’t ask for a better compilation.
Bottom line: Three-disc compilation of great reggae artists reinventing The Beatle’s songs. It’s really as good as it sounds.