Review: Roots of Creation – Grateful Dub

Review: Roots of Creation – Grateful Dub

Roots of Creation – Grateful Dub
Track Listing:
1.) Fire On The Mountain (ft. Stephen Marley & Marlon Asher)
2.) They Love Each Other (ft. Hayley Jane)
3.) Friend Of The Devil
4.) Deal (ft. The Aggrolites & Melvin Seals)
5.) Casey Jones (ft. Fortunate Youth)
6.) Black Muddy River (ft. Melvin Seals)
7.) Ripple (ft. G. Love & Special Sauce & Melvin Seals)
8.) He’s Gone
9.) Sugaree
10.) Shakedown Street Dub (ft. Melvin Seals)
11.) Standing On The Moon (ft. Melvin Seals)
12.) A Moment Of Silence For Jerry Garcia
13.) Row Jimmy (Errol Brown Remix)

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: March 9th, 2018
Record Label: Bombshelter Records
Official Website: Roots of Creation Website

Artist Background:
Roots of Creation is a New Hampshire-based reggae-jamband hybrid known for their electric live performances. The band is fronted by Brett Wilson (lead vocals/guitar) and features Tal Pearson (keyboards/vocals), and Mike Chadinha (drums), as well as a rotating cast of musicians for their live shows. Named after the Sublime song “Roots of Creation,” the band formed at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. Since that time, RoC has released a number of studio and live albums, their 2016 album Livin Free debuting #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. RoC has constructed a truly distinct sound, effectively straddling the reggae and jamband worlds.

Album Review:
Roots of Creation has slyly incorporated Grateful Dead covers and teases into their live show for years, so it’s no surprise that they took on the unique project of creating an entire album of Dead covers with their own reggae twist. You’d be hard pressed to find a band more capable of pulling off the concept. Sublime’s cover of “Scarlet Begonias” is an absolute classic, and Slightly Stoopid has collaborated with Bob Weir for some incredible material as well, so it was a treat to see RoC follow a similar path and try to put their own stamp on a selection of classic Grateful Dead songs.

The crowdfunded album features a lengthy and musically diverse list of guest artists. Stephen Marley and Marlon “Ganja Farmer” Asher kick off the album with a burst of energy on “Fire On The Mountain.” Brett Wilson, Marley, and Asher have perfect synergy on the track, building up the music for a fiery finish. Hayley Jane, lead singer of Hayley Jane and The Primates, adds her extremely versatile voice to “They Love Each Other,” and Dan Kelly of Fortunate Youth fits in perfectly on the classic “Casey Jones.” G. Love & Special Sauce, The Aggrolites, and Melvin Seals also brought their unbridled talents to Grateful Dub.

Wilson’s guitar prowess shines through on tracks like “Sugaree” and their slow and steady version of “Friend Of The Devil.” On “Shakedown Street Dub” we get a beautiful dose of horns, and on “Deal” the horns in the intro sound quite similar to the bass line from Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.” Perhaps the best song on the album is “Black Muddy River,” a Grateful Dead song that had somehow slipped past my ears until now. RoC delivers a sweet and gentle rendition of the tune, highlighting the beautiful lyrics of Robert Hunter. The song concludes with a crisp guitar solo and a passionate outro.

Overall, Roots of Creation were on point with this album. The obvious factor when evaluating a cover album is how much justice the songs give to the originals, but also whether or not they are different enough to be interesting and exhibit their own individual quirks. For the ladder, RoC are one-hundred-percent on the mark. Especially for the quicker paced songs, RoC’s versions provide a fresh take on classic tracks, full of flare and twists. 

However, I often found myself wanting to go and listen to the Grateful Dead versions immediately after listening to a song, but also occasionally during one. This is a testament to the longevity and power of those songs. Grateful Dub is extremely well-produced, with each song sounding very sharp and the band playing tight throughout. The album is certainly a fun listen for fans of the Grateful Dead, but should also open up new fans to the Dead’s incredible catalog of music. With Grateful Dub, RoC keeps the fire burning on these timeless songs, which is the ultimate tribute to the Grateful Dead.

Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters

[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]

Listen: Roots of Creation – “Black Muddy River”