Album Review: Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Marley’
Arguably one of the greatest artist of all time, Jamaica's number one son and leader of a whole genre of music, Bob Marley certainly deserves to be included in the upper echelons of those deemed truly great, alongside the likes of Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. Indeed, there surely can't be a more aptly named album than Marley's 'Best Of' collection, 'Legend'. Like Jackson and Gaye, Bob Marley was gone too soon, dying from cancer in 1981 at the young age of 36.
It is through posthumous collections such as 'Legend' that many of us would have listened to Bob Marley for the first time and the latest offering, 'Marley' – recently released through his original label, Island Records – as the soundtrack to coincide with the film of the same name is another chance for us, as music lovers to celebrate the life and work of this iconic figure. True art stands the test of time. Our parents played the 25 tracks on 'Marley' to us and I've no doubt the majority of us will educate our own children about the third world's first superstar.
Marley excelled where so many faltered. His ability to bring religious, spiritual and socio-political awareness to a mainstream consciousness entirely through music was groundbreaking in his era. Even though he passed over 30 years ago, the songs included on 'Marley' don't sound out of place. While they represent a moment in time, a movement and a struggle, the tracks could easily be related to the goings on around the world today. The beauty and truth in his lyrics, tone and music still rings true.
'Get Up, Stand Up', 'No Woman No Cry', 'I Shot The Sheriff' (both live versions from the Lyceum) and 'Could You Be Loved' all appear on 'Marley', as does – for the first time – 1978's version of 'Jammin' from the One Love Peace Festival. There are new experiences to be enjoyed for even the most ardent Bob Marley fan. On a personal note, I would have liked to have seen 'Buffalo Soldier' make it onto the record, but with an immense collection of great tracks in a back catalogue that doesn't appear to have yielded a single bad song, the film makers (for the album follows the chronological order of the film's chosen songs) had an immensely hard task to decide which 25 to include.
Where the album and the film triumph is in how effortlessly the songs lean into one another, developing and taking the listener on a journey through the incredibly talented man's life from start to finish, giving a fresh appreciation to their significance. While the film tells his story in pictures, footage, interviews and songs, all Bob Marley was ever about was the message through his reggae music. This soundtrack does more than enough to celebrate and paint the perfect portrait of the life of the late, great star.
'Marley' is out now
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)