ALBUM REVIEW: Grateful Dub by Roots of Creation
The Grateful Dead has been the soundtrack to millions of peoples lives for over 50 years. If you are a Deadhead you have listened to their music all days of the week and through all the ups and downs of life. Sunny days and sorrow. Road trips and reckless nights. Love and loss. Stadiums and sidewalks. You either love the Dead or you don't. If you do, the Grateful Dead becomes part of you, and your heart and soul cannot be separated from the music nor the community built around it.
New Hampshire based roots-rock-reggae band Roots of Creation entered their studio in January of 2017 with the goal of reinterpreting the Grateful Dead's music in a reggae fashion and they have spent the last year making the album a masterpiece. This concept has been attempted in the past by a group of reggae superstars shortly after Jerry Garcia's death, and the project missed the mark for many Deadheads. Roots of Creation's Grateful Dub is not only right on target, it is an album that Deadheads will absorb into their daily life and an album that will stand the test of time.
Roots of Creation are collectively avid fans of the Grateful Dead, and lead singer and guitarist Brett Wilson will tell you that Jerry Garcia changed his life. Wilson spent his teen years playing along to Grateful Dead tapes and trading Maxell II's. Like many, he absorbed the music, the methodology and the culture of the band. Simply put, Brett Wilson is a Deadhead. That fact is one of the main reasons this album comes off so well. Wilson has sung some of these songs, hundreds, if not thousands of times over the past 20 years and then the songs became part of him along the way.
When the band decided to record their forthcoming release, Grateful Dub, they wanted to approach it with reverence. They chose songs wisely. They worked through the material naturally. They brought in special guests that didn't just add names to the album but added feeling. Stephen Marley, Marlon "Ganja Farmer" Asher, Hayley Jayne, Melvin Seals, G.Love, Jesse Wagner of The Aggrolites and Dan Kelly of Fortunate Youth all stepped in and added something special to the album.
Nothing on this album is forced, glossed over, or without heart. If a guitar part seemed better played on horns, melodica, or another instrument-they went with that. If vocals didn't feel right, they worked the song out as an instrumental. Brett didn't try to be Jerry, but he obviously kept his memory close, and he let his voice show the love he has for the Grateful Dead.
In terms of the intricate improvisational inventiveness the Grateful Dead are known for, Roots of Creation didn't go there. This isn't JRAD, this is Grateful Dub. Roots of Creation focused on the songs in a straightforward way. Everything on this album is tight and to the point. Nothing is jammy, spaced-out, or stretched-out. Nothing got lost in translation. The listener gets a feeling of familiarity combined with a completely fresh experience, and those two moods blend together into an entire album that makes you smile.
One of the most striking attributes of this album is the sound. Roots of Creation recruited legendary engineer/producer Errol Brown to capture the experience - and the result is nothing short of spectacular. Errol Brown has worked on well over 200 reggae albums during his career, many of which are known to be some of the best recordings out there, and has won 5 Grammys to prove that point. Brown shaped the sound on Bob Marley & The Wailers Catch A Fire (1973), Survival (1979), Uprising (1980) and Legend (1984) - as well as Gregory Isaac's Night Nurse (1982) and Jimmy Cliff's Hanging Fire (1988). Most recently, Brown has been on tour with Rebelution doing live sound. Mastered at Sterling Sound in NYC, the album received its final touches a few days ago and will be ready for the world to enjoy on March 9, 2018.
If you love the Grateful Dead, and you love reggae, you will love Grateful Dub. The entire album hits home, but certain songs just jump into your heart. "They Love Each Other", "Deal", "He's Gone", and "Row Jimmy" will give any Grateful Dead cover ever played a run for its money, but it's the heartfelt version of "Standing On The Moon" that will make you cry with both remembrance and joy if you let it. Bradley Nowell of Sublime and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead were sitting on Brett Wilson's shoulders when he recorded "Standing on The Moon", and no one but Bruce Hornsby or Jerry himself could have done it better.
Roots of Creation: "Grateful Dub" - a Reggae-inspired tribute to the Grateful Dead
1. Fire on the Mountain (feat. Stephen Marley + Marlon "Ganja Farmer" Asher) [4:58]
2. They Love Each Other (feat. Hayley Jane) [5:48]
3. Friend of the Devil [5:49]
4. Deal (feat. Jesse Wagner of The Aggrolites + Melvin Seals) [3:15]
5. Casey Jones (feat. Dan Kelly of Fortunate Youth) [4:16]
6. Black Muddy River (feat. Melvin Seals) [5:15]
7. Ripple (feat. G. Love + Melvin Seals) [5:18]
8. He's Gone [6:57]
9. Sugaree [6:10]
10. Shakedown Street (feat. Melvin Seals) [5:14]
11. Standing on the Moon (feat. Melvin Seals) [7:05]
12. A Moment of Silence for Jerry Garcia [0:59] ***Bonus Track***
13. Row Jimmy (Errol Brown remix) [5:07]
ROOTS OF CREATION:
Brett Wilson - Vocals/Guitar
Tal Pearson - Keyboards/Melodica
Mike Chadinha - Drums/SPDS/Percussion
Andrew Riordan - Saxophone/Harmony Vocals
Nick Minicucci - Bass/Sticky Guitar/Mandolin
Billy Kottage - Trombone/Harmony Vocals
Stephen Marley - vocals
G. Love (G. Love & Special Sauce) - harmonica
Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band) - organ
Marlon "Ganja Farmer" Asher - vocals
Dan Kelly (Fortunate Youth) - vocals
Jesse Wagner (The Aggrolites) - vocals
Hayley Jane (Hayley Jane & the Primates) - vocals
Andy "AG" Geib (Slightly Stoopid) - trumpet
Alex Brander (Big D & the Kids Table) - percussion
Horn/Harmony Vocal Arrangements: Andrew Riordan
Harmony vocals: Tal Pearson on track #2
Gang Vocals at end of "Ripple": Roots of Creation, Juliana Wilson, & Brendan Connors
Talkin track #12: Suria Wilson
Produced by: Errol Brown + Brett Wilson
Co-Produced by: Jon Phillips, Roots of Creation, & Andrew Riordan
Recorded & Mixed by: Errol Brown + Brendan Connors @ studio.metronome [Brookline, NH]
Additional Mixing/Pre-Mastering: Pete "Boardz" Peloquin @ Boards House Productions (BHP) + studio.metronome [Brookline, NH]
Mastering: Chris Gehringer | Sterling Sound [New York, NY]
Executive Producers: All our generous pledgers & the RoC Family!