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The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardub

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardub And The Easy Stars From Mars

by Debbie Brautman

David Bowie’s glam-rock masterpiece album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, gets the Easy Star All-Stars remake done reggae style. Ziggy Stardub by Easy Star All-Stars is dedicated to the genius of David Bowie and all the creators involved in making The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars. Who are these geniuses that took one of the best rock albums ever and did a cool reggae version with top-notch musicians and guest artists? Michael Goldwasser is genius number one, who is the mastermind behind taking various rock albums and reimagining them as reggae. Growing up in New York, he was exposed to reggae at eight years old and embraced it. At thirteen, he learned guitar and played in bands doing reggae, ska, funk and R&B all over New York. In 1996, he founded his record label, Easy Star Records, which became a leading independent reggae label, ruling the Billboard reggae charts. Goldwasser has written, produced, arranged and played on many of Easy Star’s releases, and worked with some of the biggest names in reggae, including Steel Pulse, Third World, Toots & The Maytals, and Ranking Joe. The man wears many hats and has also done remixes for diverse artists such as Yoko Ono, Jason Mraz, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monet, and Umphrey’s McGee. Before this ambitious project, Easy Star had great success with Dub Side of the Moon, a reggae version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It is one of the best-selling independent releases of the 21st century. Other tributes of theirs were successfully done to The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Radiohead. It brought more people into the fold, making more new fans of reggae. Goldwasser says, “Music is about connecting people, that’s what it’s about. I stand by all the music we’ve made, not selling out, and every album I’ve done is special to me.”

Easy Star All Star’s album, Ziggy Stardub, takes Bowie’s magnificent songs and reworks them with super cool arrangements. They just don’t write ’em like that anymore. Nowadays you can go to a concert and come out not remembering a single song, just one long jam of unmemorable songs. By utilizing some of the best modern talents and combining them with these memorable classic Bowie songs, we get a fresh reggae reinvention of Ziggy Stardust that holds up well in 2023. Some highlights are Steel Pulse covering “Five Years,” the delightful Maxi Priest staying true to “Starman,” and Macy Gray making “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” her own. Bowie would be very pleased as their interpretations are supreme. The Skints, an English reggae punk band, really nail “Ziggy Stardust.“ Additional star power musicians are rock god Alex Lifeson from Rush playing guitar on “Moonage Daydream” along with the beautifully smooth vocals of Star Girl Naomi Cowan. Vernon Reid, of Living Colour, and Fishbone join together for a killer “Hang On To Yourself.” In addition, the Easy Star All-Stars are excellent musicians themselves and it all sounds oh so right. The front and back cover artwork replicates the original Bowie artwork except Rasta looking Andrew Blake is the cover model instead of Bowie. It is so well done, as is everything on this album. No stone left unturned.

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