Roots of Creation
Debuting at number one on the Billboard reggae charts, New England’s own Roots of Creation have successfully launched a thoroughly enjoyable album of Grateful Dead covers. They have done a great job being faithful to the original vibe of the songs whilst adding their own particular flavor – reggae and dub.
Brett Wilson is the driving force behind the band, and his love for the Dead has been no secret. Every time I’ve seen him solo or with Roots of Creation he has pulled out some tunes from the Grateful vault. His talent and artistry shines on this album, bringing a lot of energy and creativity to the project.
They’ve brought an impressive cast of all-stars from various genres to help them carry the torch for Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Opening up the album is a stellar version of “Fire on the Mountain” featuring the one-and-only Stephen Marley. They follow up with support on other tracks from the likes of local favorite Hayley Jane, G. Love of Special Sauce fame, Fortunate Youth, and several tracks with long-time organist of the Jerry Garcia Band, Melvin Seals.
The song selection is great. They hit on both mainstream favorites like “Ripple” and “Friend of the Devil” as well as deeper cuts such as “Standing On The Moon” and “Black Muddy River”. Some of the songs stay remarkably akin to the original, like the note-for-note guitar solo in “Casey Jones”, whereas on other tunes they take it in a whole new direction, like the instrumental dub version of “Shakedown Street”.
One of the highlights for me is “Deal” which retains its full swing appeal and features some New Orleans vibe with what sounds like an accordian comping the backbeat. “Sugaree” kicks off with some heavy blues feel before the segway into a sweet reggae beat.
It’s not always easy to pull off an album covering a legendary band like the Grateful Dead. You run the risk of sounding banal in copying the original too closely, or on the flipside, taking it too far away from the original and hence sound like you’re trying too hard. Roots of Creation manages to walk that line expertly, creating something that is new and interesting to vibe to while still pulling at the heartstrings of longtime Deadheads like myself.
Brett Wilson and Roots of Creation have done a nice job producing a very fun album that will be sure to tug at your memories while putting a bounce in your step. They accepted the challenge of turning covers into something refreshing and new, and they have done it with style. I highly recommend that you check out “Grateful Dub” and get back to the magic of a ripple in still water, when there is no pebble tossed, no wind to blow.
Two Ton Music