Like many, many people — including, supposedly, one out of every five households in the UK — I have a copy of Pink Floyd’s masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon. And like the vast majority of those people, I don’t listen to it much anymore.

Instead, I listen to an album called Dub Side of the Moon, by a NYC pickup group called the Easy Star All Stars. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this 2003 album: that’s right, this is a dub-reggae version of the Pink Floyd classic. It is also a masterpiece in its own right. It has been on the Billbaord (reggae) charts for 100 weeks, an echo (pun intended) of the original’s unequalled 724-week chart reign.

Dub Side of the Moon is not, not, not a cheap tribute album. It is not a group of well-known artists getting together to pay tribute to one of their influences (e.g., Two Rooms – Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin or Common Thread – The Songs of the Eagles), although it does feature well-known reggage and blues musicians like vocalist Ranking Joe, the harmony group Meditations, and guitarist Corey Harris. Nor is it the work of a smarmy parody act (Dread Zeppelin), nor is it a paint-by-numbers emulation (Beatlemania).

Dub Side of the Moon is, finally, the delivery of a pregnant idea. Dub music has a fair bit in common with progressive rock, and fans of the latter often share an affinity for the former. The spaciness, shifting textures, rhythmic juxtapositions, and emphasis on instrumentals over vocals are common to both. I remember listening to the productions of the UK-based dub wizard The Mad Professor in the early 1980s and thinking about how similar it sounded to British art-rock. I may have even segued from the Mad Professor into Floyd on my radio show back then.

On this album, the original material is treated with respect as it is transmogrified into dub language. Michael Goldwasser, the producer, was judicious in the elements he decided to change rather than emulate. For example, marijuana becomes part of the metaphor of paranoia that pervades the original album; hence the cash-register noises in “Money” are now the sounds of bong hits and coughing. David Gilmour’s soaring guitar solo in “Time” becomes a Ranking Joe toasting rap: “Time is the master, time can be a disaster.”

The sound quality of the album is amazing; it’s tailor made for iPods and earbuds, just as the original benefited from big clunky ear-surrounding headphones plugged into your stereo. It is also, allegedly, tailor made for listening while The Wizard of Oz plays on your VCR, just like the original.

I find myself listening to Dub Side of the Moon over and over again. I even saw the Easy Star All Stars perform it in its entirely at a downtown club a couple of years ago; the album has become so popular that the core group tours it internationally. Easy Star Records has followed with a Radiohead tribute called, of course, Radiodread.

Now, I have a request to the Easy Star All Stars: how about a dub version of a certain classic Yes album? One tune in particular cries out for the dub treatment. You could call it “And I and I.”

Postscript: the Easy Star All Stars released Dubber Side of the Moon, an album of remixes featuring such legendary dub producers as Scientist, Adrian Sherwood, and The Mad Professor, in October 2010.  It displaced Dub Side of the Moon after a Billboard reggae chart run of about 200 weeks.  I just listened to the new one.  Lots of wacky, spacy effects… but not as good as the “original.”