Review: HEMP! – Reggae Beatles Tribute Vol. II

Review: HEMP! – Reggae Beatles Tribute Vol. II

HEMP! – Reggae Beatles Tribute Vol. II
Hemp! Track Listing:
CD 1:
1.) A Hard Days’s Night – Ali Campbell (feat. Sly & Robbie)
2.) The Fool On the Hill – Sig Ragga
3.) Yesterday – Ras Attitude & The Oneness Band
4.) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Los Pericos
5.) Love Me Do – Mellow Mood
6.) Ticket to Ride – David Hinds
7.) Across the Universe – Quique Neira & Dubies
8.) Come Together – Groundation
9.) And I Love Her – Desmond Foster
10.) Help! – Gomba Jahbari
11.) Let It Be – Olodum
12.) All You Need Is Love – Pablo Molina & Leoes de Israel
13.) You Won’t See Me – Raging Fyah
14.) Flying – Dennis Bovell
15.) I Am the Walrus – Nairobi & Ugo
16.) Imagine – Big Mountain

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CD 2:
17.) All Things Must Pass – Cultura Profética
18.) Something – Nkulee Dube & The Robotiks
19.) Back in the USSR – La Zimbabwe
20.) In My Life – Yellowman & Timaias
21.) All My Loving – Matamba
22.) Please Mr. Postman – Sister Mary Elephant & The Pitch Pipes
23.) Blackbird – Bahiano
24.) Michelle – Tribo De Jah
25.) Please Please Me – Rebelution
26.) You Got to Hide Your Love Away – 10 Ft. Ganja Plant
27.) From Me to You – Prezident Brown
28.) Love Me Do (Reprise) – Pato Banton & Mellow Mood
29.) The Inner Light – Bambú Station
30.) Dear Prudence (feat. Zion Train) – Jahdan Blakkamore & Humanidub
31.) While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Gaudi
32.) Give Peace a Chance – Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus

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CD 3:
33.) Obladi Oblada – Don Carlos & Dub Vision Band
34.) Till There Was You – Los Cafres
35.) Can’t Buy Me Love – Andrew Tosh & Aline Duran
36.) If I Needed Someone – Kameleba
37.) Let It Be – House of Shem
38.) Across the Universe – Rootz Underground
39.) And I Love Her – Congo
40.) Got to Get You Into My Life – Armandinho
41.) The Fool On the Hill – Danakil
42.) I’ll Be Back – Mad Professor
43.) Tomorrow Never Knows – Destroy Babylon
44.) Revolution – Resistência
45.) Hey Jude – 1814
46.) Day Tripper – Sebastian Sturm & Exile Airlines
47.) Octopu’s Graden – Sessiones & Dubmatix
48.) Don’t Let Me Down (Live) – The Aggrolites

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: October 30th, 2013
Official Website: Hemp! Website

Group Background:

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their US debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Claimed to be the biggest moment in popular music history, 50 years later the music of The Beatles are timeless tunes, influencing new generations around the globe.

This past October, Lanús, Argentina, Afro Recording Studio, following their first volume, 2005’s The Green Album, released another 48 tracks of Beatles covers, recorded by an impressive compilation of Reggae artists.

Producer Hernan Sforzini’s second volume, titled Hemp! – Reggae Tribute to The Beatles is three discs that not only includes contributions from some of the best features of major Latin American Reggae, but also work from a long list of international Reggae artists. In total, the project is composed of 56 artists from 16 countries. Recorded in 35 studios and produced in Afro Studios, the tracks are available in both digital and a beautiful physical format.

Album Review:

With so many tracks, I could cherry pick around the CDs in the car, or play through the whole record in the office. As a big Beatles fan, and an even bigger Reggae fan, over the past few months these songs were easy to casually listen through. The Beatles have a great discography, one with tracks that can be played anywhere. The Reggae tinged songs are no different. They remain catchy, allowing listeners to sing along while enjoying the unique instrumentation of each version.

Before laying out the review on the content, it’s worth noting that Reggae covers of infamous music is a concept that has been done before. A point only acknowledged because a lot of people I recommend this record to, quickly reference Easy Star All-Stars’ Lonely Hearts Dub Band release that was put out in 2009. It is a great studio recording, with well-composed versions of the Beatles originals. The tracks on Hemp! however, are different Reggae renditions on Beatles tracks, done just as well as the bar-setting Easy Star All-Stars.

Listening through the record, I truly enjoyed each of the artists’ take on every track, however, some songs may seem “better” than others, but only because the “better” tracks may be slightly more upbeat, or energetic. Some are more memorable, with covers of the more popular songs being done by more recognizable artists.

Arranging tracks on a compilation seems to be a tough task. Songs of The Beatles span years of albums & the producers of Hemp faced a monumental task in organizing this excellent sampling of Rocksteady, Reggae, Dub, Dancehall and Ska. This includes renditions from some of the most renowned bands spanning from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, England, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and the US (to name a few.)

After listening beginning to end, several times, I came to appreciate the flow of the tracks’ ordering. There seems to be a grouping of tracks with similar paces, and key signatures, as they transition smoothly from one to another. Disc one begins with a Reggae electronic-dubbed rendering of “A Hard Day’s Night.” The track features the vocals of UB40 founder Ali Campbell paired with a modern electro-skank mix from Sly & Robbie. As the track fades out, string instruments crescendo in, as ”The Fool On the Hill” picks up with a beautiful few measures of wind instrumentation before the airy vocals and island vibes of Sig Ragga takes over. Ending on a whimsically full orchestration, there’s a moment of silence before a rim shot. The harmonies of “Yesterday” lead the record into a solid block of Beatles hits.

With so many tracks devoted to a the legacy of The Beatles, with a Reggae nod, I strongly encourage you pick this 48 track compilation. To highlight some of the covers included in this compilation, check out “Ticket to Ride” by David Hinds of Steel Pulse, Groundation with an excellent version of “Come Together”. “Imagine” performed by Big Mountain, “Please Please Me” by Rebelution, “You Got to Hide Your Love Away” by 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, Don Carlos & Dub Vision Band doing “Obladi Oblada”, “Let It Be” by House of Shem, “Across the Universe” by Rootz Underground and a live version of “Don’t Let Me Down” performed by The Aggrolites.

Written & Reviewed By: Aaron Solomon

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]