cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Cover -[CLICK to enlarge]

  This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

 

 

 

"In a single disc, it captures everything that made him an international icon: his nuanced songcraft, his political message." - (RollingStone) .. .. .. "Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright”. - (Bob Marley) .. .. .. "It is chock full of some of the greatest reggae recorded and is a tribute to the brilliance of Bob Marley, and the playing of the Wailers." - (This review)

This is album retro-review number 171 in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and Cd albums in my collection.

The series is called
“Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.

Links to the previous 150 reviews can be found at the bottom of this review.

I am way overdue in bringing out one of the great reggae albums from my collection for a retro-review, so I have rectified that.

The artist is the great Bob Marley along with the fabulous Wailers and the album is the original 1984 vinyl album – Legend.

Released on the Island label it has the identifying code of RML 52042.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Album label – [CLICK to enlarge]
The album is in many ways a compilation album, but what a beauty and it has seven tracks on both sides, for a total of 14 tracks.

It was remastered and re-released on CD in 1999, and in 2002 a deluxe Cd was issues, then a re-mixed edition in 2014 and finally, a 30th Anniversary edition also in 2014.


This album is a ripper!

 

Yes it is in many ways a compilation album, and some people believe that if you want to hear the best of an artist, listen to an album that has been produced as a stand-alone effort.

The argument is that it is the only way to understand the music as conceptualised by the artist at the time of recording.

Yup! Sometimes this is right. There are many examples to support this belief such as the Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s album and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, just to name two of many.

However this album draws literally the cream of the cream tracks from Marley albums and, throws in some of his top selling singles versions to provide us with an amazing musical cornucopia of Marley reggae.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Inner gatefold

 

It is a gatefold album with a great set of liner notes summarising Bob Marley’s career up to the time this album was produced, with the whole thing containing a wonderful collage of photographs.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Gatefold picture – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Track Listing:

Side 1
1. Is This Love
2. No Woman, No Cry
3. Could You Be Loved
4. Three Little Birds
5. Buffalo Soldier
6. Get Up, Stand Up
7. Stir It Up

Side 2
1. One Love/People Get Ready
2. I Shot the Sheriff
3. Waiting in Vain
4. Redemption Song
5. Satisfy My Soul
6. Exodus
7. Jammin’

 

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Rear cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The story of Bob Marley is a complex story and one rich in fact and legend while underpinned with the most amazing and influential music.

It is a story that demands interested readers so to learn more, check out the whole Marley Biography and the book Catch A FIre: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White. Both are highly recommended.

In summary, Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. In 1963, he and his friends formed the Wailing Wailers.

Like many Jamaicans he was brought up in a world of poverty and like many, found inspiration through the music around him. Firming a life-long friendship with Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston, they devoted almost all their time to music.

They were living in Trench Town, which had a number of successful local performers and was considered the Motown of Jamaica.

However, sounds from the United States also drifted in over the radio and through jukeboxes. Marley came to like artists such as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and the Drifters.

The Wailers’ big break came in 1972, when they landed a contract with Island Records.

Bob Marley went on to sell more than 20 million records throughout his career, making him the first international superstar to emerge from the so-called Third World.

His ability to strike a chord in the hearts of both Jamaicans and many in the west led his growing popularity to coalesce into true super-stardom.

Already a much-admired star in his native Jamaica, Marley was on his way to becoming an international music icon. He made the U.S. music charts with the album Rastaman Vibration in 1976.

One track stands out as an expression of his devotion to his faith and his interest in political change: “War.”

The song’s lyrics were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie, the 20th century Ethiopian emperor who is seen as a type of a spiritual leader in the Rastafarian Movement.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Bob Marley: 1974 – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

During his rise and rise to stardom Marley had a health scare in 1977. He sought treatment in July of that year on a toe he had injured earlier that year. After discovering cancerous cells in his toe, doctors suggested amputation.

Marley refused to have the surgery however, because his religious beliefs prohibited amputation.

In 1980 while on tour to support the album Uprising, Bob & The Wailers traveled throughout Europe, playing in front of large crowds. The group also planned a series of concerts in the United States, but the group would play only two concerts—at Madison Square Garden in New York City—before Marley became ill.

The cancer discovered earlier in his toe had spread throughout his body.

He died in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981.

Shortly before his death, Bob had received the Order of Merit from the Jamaican government. He had also been awarded the Medal of Peace from the United Nations in 1980.

Adored by the people of Jamaica, Bob Marley was given a hero’s send-off. More than 30,000 people paid their respects to the musician during his memorial service, held at the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica.

Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt sang and the Wailers performed at the ceremony.

During his career he released thirteen studio albums covering the period 1965 [The Wailing Wailers] to the posthumous Confrontation in 1983.

There were also five live albums and six compilations, which includes the album we are looking at – Legends.

This album was the first and the best of all those compilation releases and reached the number 1 position in four countries and went platinum an amazing fifteen times in the USA.

Technically the Wailers started as Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, but were short lived before becoming Bob Marley and the Wailers.

For the convenience of writing, I am referring to Bob Marley and the Wailers from now on as simply the Wailers. The Wailers were in existence from 1972 to 1981, the year of Bob’s sad passing, and variously consisted of:

Bob Marley – Vocals, rhythm & acoustic guitars & percussion
Peter Mackintosh – Piano, organ, guitar & vocals
Bunny Livingston – Congas, bongos & vocals *
Joe Higgs – Percussion
Aston “Family Man” Barrett – Bass & percussion
Carlton (Carlie) Barrett – Drums & percussion
Al Anderson – Lead guitar
Julian (Junior) Marvin – Lead guitar & backing vocals
Tyrone Downie – Keyboards, percussion & backing vocals
Alvin “Seeco” Patterson – Percussion
Earl “Wya” Lindo – Keyboards, percussion & backing vocals
Earl “Chinna” Smith – Lead & rhythm guitar & percussion
Donald Kinsey – Lead guitar
Touter – Piano & organ

Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths & Judy Mowatt: known as the “I Threes” – Backing vocals

* Bunny left the group in 1974 to develop a solo career

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Bob & The Wailers – early 1970’s – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Look, let’s be totally honest, there is not a track that could not or should not be played on this album.

It is chock full of some of the greatest reggae recorded and is a tribute to the brilliance of Bob Marley, and the playing of the Wailers. So picking out four, five or six tracks and then trying to justify why these and not others, is in fact indefensible.

So acknowledging the fact that all of them are worthy, I have simply tried to choose six tracks that represent either phases of his career or are stylistically different, or just plain grab my soul!

Track 1 kicks off with Is This Love.

This track was was lifted from the 1978 Kaya album. The title says it all!

It is a love song, a beautifully crafted love song but there is no soppy “moon in June with a spoon” type lyrics, nor a similar sentiment. Love is a powerful thing and when Bob Marley sang a love song he did so with all the power and rhythm of a well crafted reggae song.

The track was used in no less than 5 movies and has been covered by a dozen or more other artists.

The song was written by Bob and dedicated to his wife – Rita!

It needs no deep analysis, is just needs to be played and enjoyed as one of the great loves songs of the 1970’s, and certainly, one of the most unique.

I wanna love you and treat you right;

I wanna love you every day and every night:
We’ll be together with a roof right over our heads;
We’ll share the shelter of my single bed;
We’ll share the same room, yeah! – for Jah provide the bread.
Is this love – is this love – is this love –
Is this love that I’m feelin’?
Is this love – is this love – is this love –
Is this love that I’m feelin’?
I wanna know – wanna know – wanna know now!
I got to know – got to know – got to know now!

I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I – I’m willing and able,
So I throw my cards on your table!
I wanna love you – I wanna love and treat – love and treat you right;
I wanna love you every day and every night:
We’ll be together, yeah! – with a roof right over our heads;
We’ll share the shelter, yeah, oh now! – of my single bed;
We’ll share the same room, yeah! – for Jah provide the bread.

Is this love – is this love – is this love –
Is this love that I’m feelin’?
Is this love – is this love – is this love –
Is this love that I’m feelin’?
Wo-o-o-oah! Oh yes, I know; yes, I know – yes, I know now!
Yes, I know; yes, I know – yes, I know now!

I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I – I’m willing and able,
So I throw my cards on your table!
See: I wanna love ya, I wanna love and treat ya –
love and treat ya right.
I wanna love you every day and every night:
We’ll be together, with a roof right over our heads!
We’ll share the shelter of my single bed;
We’ll share the same room, yeah! Jah provide the bread.
We’ll share the shelter of my single bed – [fadeout]

Is This Love

I could not move past track 2No Woman No Cry. 

Then I suddenly realised this would mean I am featuring seven, not six tracks. So bet it!

It is the only live performance on the album, and what a performance that must have been if this track is any indicator.

Originally released on the 1974 Natty Dread album, this even better version was recorded at the London Lyceum Theatre in 1975, and appearing on the album Live.

This is a track that grabs your soul and your heart and is so very, very emotive.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Performing at the Lyceum – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

It was originally conceived as a “gospel” style track with minimal backing, but eventually was modified into the current form.

There is an air of excitement that comes across during the performance as the crowd responds and is totally immersed in the song. It is easily to believe that when Bob sings, “Everything is going to be alright”, that even if it is just for that moment – it was going to be alright!

I must make mention of the great lead break courtesy of Al Anderson.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Another shot of Bob at the Lyceum concert – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

It is easy to have a track sound great when recorded under ideal studio conditions with all the “tricks” at the hands of producers and Engineers – in this track we hear pure brilliance, live, as it happened!

No Woman No Cry

It is difficult but I bypass tracks 3 and 4, Could You Be Loved (from the 1980 Uprising album) and Three Little Birds (from the 1977 Exodus album), but I have to pause at track 5 Buffalo Soldier.

Appearing on the posthumous Confrontation album, this is a mighty powerful track, amongst a collection of powerful tracks.

The song was co written by Bob and Noel Williams and was recorded at Bobs last recording session in 1980, but wasn’t released until three years later on the Confrontation album.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
[CLICK to enlarge]

 

It is well known that the title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as “Buffalo Soldiers“, that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866.

Marley likened their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance.

This was a cause close to his heart and a cause he lovingly used his music to expose the world to. Yet as a Rastafarian Bob rejected violence in action and words – so really the point of the music was not to lash out in anger; it was to educate people about history so they, the people, can take control of their future.

It’s much more effective to learn from music that is peaceful than from music that is confrontational. I think Marley knew exactly what he was doing with the music and the message, sometimes it just takes patience to understand it.

Buffalo Soldier

Track 6 is a perfect example of Bob using music and words to fight the good fight, not through the advocation of violence, but through education and the power of words and organisation of peoples and their spirits.

The track is Get Up Stand Up.

This was originally released on the 1973 Burnin’ Album. It was also the last album featuring both Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer before they left for solo careers and the Wailers became Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Bob’s underlying philosophies on life were in themselves underpinned by the philosophy and practices of the Rastafarians. So this track could be seen as the closest he ever came to demanding direct action, but understand, it was action that transcends both political and religious bounds.

What makes it so great is that as we listen we each form our own “causes”, we see around us the things that affect us, or that we affect, and it calls us to action, to take control of our lives and our souls.

It has its genesis of when Bob was moved by a visit to Haiti and the depths of poverty he witnessed there.

It is an indicator of his brilliance that he was able to use that experience to pen one of the great songs that is a call to arms for action, one he would want to be non-violent!

It is also the very last song he ever sang live, and that gives the track and even greater poignancy.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

Preacherman, don’t tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don’t know
What life is really worth.
It’s not all that glitters is gold;
‘Alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. Come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. Jah!

Get up, stand up! (Jah, Jah!)
Stand up for your rights! (Oh-hoo!)
Get up, stand up! (Get up, stand up!)
Don’t give up the fight! (Life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (So we can’t give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (Lord, Lord!)
Get up, stand up! (Keep on struggling on!)
Don’t give up the fight! (Yeah!)

We sick an’ tired of-a your ism-skism game –
Dyin’ ‘n’ goin’ to heaven in-a Jesus’ name, Lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

So you better:
Get up, stand up! (In the morning! Git it up!)
Stand up for your rights! (Stand up for our rights!)
Get up, stand up!
Don’t give up the fight! (Don’t give it up, don’t give it up!)
Get up, stand up! (Get up, stand up!)
Stand up for your rights! (Get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( … )
Don’t give up the fight! (Get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( … )
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don’t give up the fight! [fadeout]

Get Up Stand Up

The final track on side one of the album is, Stir It Up – which appeared on the 1973 Catch A Fire album.

We turn the album over – don’t you just love vinyl for that feature? Well, I do!

Anyway track 1 is One Love/People Get Ready from the 1977 Exodus album, but it’s track 2 that catches my eyes and ears. I Shot The Sheriff first appeared on the 1973 Burnin’ album.

If you mention the track name to most people, they are more than likely to talk about that “great Eric Clapton track”!

Yes, yes . . . Clapton did a good cover and got a number 1 in the USA with it. Now, if I upset any Eric Clapton fans then that’s tough. I have a lot of love for Clapton’s music over the years and his version is very good, but his version is NOT a patch on the Bob Marley and the Wailers original.

No way Jose!

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
[CLICK to enlarge]
As the liner notes comment, and I totally concur, “Bob, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh never blended and complemented each other better than in this timeless testimony of innocence and defiance.”

Everything about this track is A1 class, the lyrics, the delivery, the magnificent reggae playing and the backing vocals.

The pulse is just magnificent and it is yet another one of those tracks where I say, “If your feet ain’t a tappin’ then they are either nailed to the floor or you are dead”!

We all have our interpretations of the track, but in a 1975 1 minute 52 second interview which was recorded onto his posthumous album, Talkin’ Blues (track 20), Bob he tells the story of growing up in Trenchtown, Jamaica.

Here men would try to fight him, and he used that experience to write a song. He did not fight “the man”, he sought out the reason why the man was angry.

He shot the real problem of why the man was angry (the sheriff) , and not the man (the deputy).

I just love the way it fades out leaving one almighty good bass & drum combo slowly taking us all out together.

Totally in line with his Rasta beliefs. What is indisputable is the strength of the track, and love of it by Bob Marley fans.

I Shot The Sheriff

As painful as it is, I move past tracks 3, 4 & 5 – those being Waiting In Vain (the 1977 Exodus album), Redemption Song ( a magnificent and powerful track from the 1980 Uprising album) and Satisfy My Soul (from the 1978 Kaya album).

My final two tracks are tracks 6 and 7 respectively.

Track 6 is Exodus.

Taken from the self titled 1977 Exodus album, it was also released on a 7 1/2″ single and it was indeed a brilliant move, as it is simply a track that demands a dance floor.

So it was that it was a runaway success in the dance halls and clubs in both the UK and the USA. Like all Bob Marley tracks there is a story behind the lyrics.

During the period Bob wrote the track, Jamaica specifically was going through much turmoil with the elections being literally fought out in the streets.

Bob wrote the track in response to what he observed and it upset a few powerful people and so it was in that year an attempt was made on the lives of both Bob and Rita Marley, with Rita being shot.

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
Making the Exodus album – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

So what we have is a double-headed success – we have a fantastic piece of political commentary and, we have a superbly crafted reggae dance track.

Check it out and relive a mighty fine piece of funk/reggae music!

Exodus

The final track on the album is Jamming.

Once again another track from the Exodus album. The track inspired Stevie Wonder to release his tribute to Bob in his track Jammin’ and in fact that track is on an upcoming Stevie Wonder album slotted in for a Cream of The Crate very shorty, so watch out for it.

The track has featured in a number of TV shows!

It is a beautiful lay-back reggae pulse that just oozes feeling. Now muso’s think of “Jamming” as getting together for a largely unrehearsed music session. In Jamaica the term means “getting together or celebration”.

So armed with that definition we can see that song is about getting together and celebrating the Rastafarian beliefs, although I suspect Bob would be down with those of us not off the rasta beliefs, “jammin” over our own spiritual paths.

Ooh, yeah! All right!
We’re jammin’:
I wanna jam it wid you.
We’re jammin’, jammin’,
And I hope you like jammin’, too.

Ain’t no rules, ain’t no vow, we can do it anyhow:
I’n’I will see you through,
‘Cos everyday we pay the price with a little sacrifice,
Jammin’ till the jam is through.

We’re jammin’ –
To think that jammin’ was a thing of the past;
We’re jammin’,
And I hope this jam is gonna last.

No bullet can stop us now, we neither beg nor we won’t bow;
Neither can be bought nor sold.
We all defend the right; Jah – Jah children must unite:
Your life is worth much more than gold.

We’re jammin’ (jammin’, jammin’, jammin’)
And we’re jammin’ in the name of the Lord;
We’re jammin’ (jammin’, jammin’, jammin’),
We’re jammin’ right straight from Yah.

Yeh! Holy Mount Zion;
Holy Mount Zion:
Jah sitteth in Mount Zion
And rules all creation.

Yeah, we’re – we’re jammin’ (wotcha-wa),
Wotcha-wa-wa-wa, we’re jammin’ (wotcha-wa),
See, I wanna jam it wid you
We’re jammin’ (jammin’, jammin’, jammin’)
I’m jammed: I hope you’re jammin’, too.

Jam’s about my pride and truth I cannot hide
To keep you satisfied.
True love that now exist is the love I can’t resist,
So jam by my side.

We’re Jammin’ (jammin’, jammin’, jammin’), yeah-eah-eah!
I wanna jam it wid you.
We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’, we’re jammin’, we’re jammin’,
We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’, we’re jammin’, we’re jammin’;
Hope you like jammin’, too.
We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’ (jammin’),
We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’ (jammin’).
I wanna (I wanna jam it wid you) – I wanna –
I wanna jam wid you now.
Jammin’, jammin’ (hope you like jammin’ too).
Eh-eh! I hope you like jammin’, I hope you like jammin’,
‘Cause (I wanna jam it wid you). I wanna … wid you.
I like – I hope you – I hope you like jammin’, too.
I wanna jam it;
I wanna jam it.

Jamming

This is a great track to finish the album with as it celebrates the beliefs of Bob Marley, it celebrates the ease at which he and the Wailers can lay down a groove, sit in it without a skerrick of effort, and at the same time produce a memorable and very danceable piece of music with meaningful lyrics.

Hey! isn’t that the essence of Bob Marley?

cream of the crate: album review # 171 – bob marley: legend
1978 – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Legends is a mighty fine album indeed – while all Bob Marley albums are a tribute to the man and his music, if you are looking for just one to start your collection, or one to represent the breadth of his talent, then you can’t go past this album.

It has been updated with an extended CD release, so that would indeed be a worthy purchase, but if you are like me and love the warmth and tactile contact of vinyl, then this album is available as it was re-released on vinyl in 2007.

The revised vinyl version secondhand, available for around $15.00 plus postage from Amazon. The Cd is available for a range of prices as there are multiple re-releases.

The original vinyl can be purchased at around $35.00 and there is even a 2014 gatefold vinyl special edition vinyl release for around $65.00. So no lack of choice!


VIDEOS:

Once again a trip into Youtube reveals some fine examples of Bob’s live work.

 

Stir It Up

 

Three Little Birds

 

One Love

 

Satisfy My Soul