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Bob Marley

  • Rastaman Vibration,
  • Exodus,
  • Survival,
  • Uprising,

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    Bob Marley

    Rastaman Vibration( 1976 )
    Positive Vibration / Roots, Rock, Reggae / Johnny Was / Cry To Me / Want More / Crazy Baldheads / Who The Cap Fit / Night Shift / War / Rat Race

    'Rastaman Vibration' was Bob Marley's fourth album for Island records, and followed the continuing wider acceptance of his music. His 1975 live album had created a hit out of 'No Woman No Cry', he was reaching audiences in both the UK and the US. 'Rastaman Vibration' explores his devout religious convictions with a spoonful of dub-reggae to flavour the music backdrop. The lyrics contain plenty of Rastafarian expressions, hopes for peace - be good to each other. Lyrics making political points, social observations and other times just full of honesty and love. This album here is a smooth, delirious listen, cohesive from beginning to end. The lack of a single stand-out cut, a big hit, or anything like that actually helps in this case. Plenty of Marley songs have become so very well known that it's easy to take them for granted. There is no such problem here, none of these songs made their way onto his big selling 'Legend' compilation, for example. Don't get me wrong by the way - there are highlights here, and plenty of them. Every one a winner, but especially the likes of opening 'Positive Vibration', 'War' and the closing 'Rat Race'. 'War' has vocals and lyrics that goes right down your spine, 'Rat Race' a glorious funky rhythm with astute observations. 'Roots Rock Reggae' sails along it's bass line, the vocal and repetition here creating an hypnotic effect. 'Positive Vibration' is such a happy song of joy, as soon as the bass line kicks in, it's hard to resist feeling happy as you listen and the song progresses.

    Echoes of dub opens 'Positive Vibration' and subtly permeate 'Johnny Was'. The lyric for the latter opens with "Woman hold her head and cry/Cause her son had been/Shot down in the street and died/From a stray bullet", "Johnny was a good man" fills the chorus, "She cried...." sings Bob, his vocal placed exactly right, sympathy and genuine feeling - lovely and beautiful vocals. 'Cry To Me' lightens the mood and lifts you, a simple enough sounding song, yet the vocal soars and sails through and the lyrics are there to be discovered. I adore the keyboard sound that opens 'Who The Cap Fit' adore the vocal backing here, very soulful. This is glorious stuff. 'Crazy Baldhead' and 'Night Shift' both flirt with Dub music, the latter song pretty straightforward lyrically on the surface, but there's always deeper levels with Bob Marley, further meanings to be drawn through repeated listenings. 'Rastaman Vibrations' is an album that easily withstands repeated listening, a serious album in places, a happy album and a religious album in other places. A good album in all places.

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    CHaR chAr GiBbI charlenecharchar@hotmail.com
    i love bob marley. he is my rasta masta! okay, that was really gay, but i'm going to stick with it.

    top of page Exodus( 1977 )
    Natural Mystic / So Much Things To Say / Guiltiness / The Heathen / Exodus / Jamming / Waiting In Vain / Turn Your Lights Down Low / Three Little Birds / One Love-people Get Ready

    The run of songs beginning with the title track, then moving onto 'Jamming' and 'Waiting In Vain' is hard to beat. Before that we get lots of thick and melodic bass lines to enjoy, vocals mixed back a little - a musical album is 'Exodus', although the lyrics are worth hearing at times, worth reaching for. 'Jamming' is slang for Dancing in this case. 'Jamming' sounds better though, doesn't it? To be honest, the first two songs here I enjoy purely for the bass lines - you could smoke these bass lines. 'Guiltiness' continues this mellow feel whilst 'The Heathen' pushes the vocals forwards a little so you can hear the message of the song better. But yeah, songs five, six and seven are the ones that make the album, which until now if i'm being honest, has just been fairly 'nice' - not upto the quality of 'Rastaman Vibration' that's for sure. Other elements come into play for the title song. The bass is still there but the vocal rhythms are pure hypnotism and the song goes on for seven minutes like this, variations on a theme. 'Jamming' is pure sunshine and gold, very happy - it'll make you smile. The vocals are as cool as can be, the music and feel worthy of a dance around the sunset with your friends. 'Waiting In Vain' features a great little keyboard melody surrounded by happy sounding musicians and romantic vocals. Every song seems to open with the smallest of dub reggae sounding drum rolls before the dub disappears bar the thick and fine bass lines. 'Exodus' is a samey kind of a record, that's for sure, but not a bad record. 'Turn The Lights Down Low' following 'Waiting In Vain' could be anybody though - a generic soft reggae ballad and nothing more than that. 'Three Little Birds' is a highlight, the closing happy 'One Love' an instant reggae classic..... but it's not enough.

    'Exodus', 'Jamming', 'Waiting In Vain', 'Three Little Birds' and 'One Love' are all readily avaliable on Marley compilations - all are fine songs, but the rest of this album really is just 'nice'. So despite the undoubted quality of the finest songs here, the album doesn't work although it sounds okay! It's a confusing thing, but half of 'Exodus' is just too light sounding for this to be a classic album. The other half is good to great, and with the aforementioned five highlights, 'Exodus' is always going to have its head above water, isn't it?

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    Readers Comments

    Bill Pemstein bpemstein@ameritech.net
    Nothing fancy here. It's just that "Natural Mystic" and "Exodus" are two of the finest reggae songs of all-time. Exodus isn't his finest work but it's pretty damn close.

    Jason Southgate jason_southgate@hotmail.com
    This was definitely a move to the more high production sound at TUFF GONG. Exodus has a powerful and racial theme, with mellow loving touches. Survival is still my favorite album over Exodus.

    top of page Survival 5 ( 1979 )
    So Much Trouble In The World / Zimbabwe / Top Ranking . Babylon System / Survival / Africa Unite / One Drop / Ride Natty Ride / Ambush In The Night / Wake Up An Live

    The music has taken a turn for the worse. Not a note out of place, mind you. Everyone is oh so very dedicated to the task in hand, supporting Mr Marley - but nobody is coming up with a single ounce of excitement. The lyrics tell stories and protest and make worthy points, but the music is too laid back for its own good. A little mellow relaxtion is a good thing, but 'Survival' displays an alarming lack of variety across its ten songs. Bob sings in exactly the same tone throughout - the listener can be forgiven for feeling a little, well, bored. 'Babylon System' is the first song on which a faster rhythm than walking pace arrives - and even this isn't particularly strong material compared to the finest Marley material of the past. There isn't a single cut on the record that can be considered a Marley classic to stand the ages..... and that's 'Survival'. An album that's difficult to strongly criticize because whilst it does little that sparks your imagnination or makes you wonder in awe - it also does little terribly wrong as such. Well, bar all the songs sounding the same, not a problem on previous Marley albums, I should add. 'So Much Trouble In The World' opens the album pretty strongly, a little funky rhythm in the background and a very soulful vocal to give import to the lyrical message. 'Zimbabwe' is a diary sketch set to not very interesting music, a 'worthy' series of observations i'm sure, but not something that stands the test of time very well. 'Top Ranking' given its name should really be more than another mid-tempo bordering on slow professional reggae groove, but it isn't. Nice brass parts, though.

    'Babylon System' is light and frothy whilst still only just rising above the albums continual mid-tempo groove and same tone of sound and vocals throughout. A reasonable song with a hook or two, this one. We'll take this. The title track sounds good, I like the groove here which seems to be doing something more interesting than usual - the bass groove is very melodic. 'Africa Unite' has a nice vocal, mellow and smooth music, but by this stage in the album if you haven't fallen asleep then you're dedicated, that's all I have to say. From the "One! Two!" counted introduction, you'd think the closing 'Wake Up And Live' is about to actually DO something, but alas it doesn't. 'Survival'? For the dedicated only. But, but, but. If it sounds like i've been harsh on the album ( perhaps I have ) - the playing really is flawless throughout and Bob is on fine vocal form....... but not enough is here apart from lyrical values from another culture.... to transcend across the boundaries away from Reggae and Marley enthusiasts.... to the general or average ( no such thing, of course ) music lover... really. But, it gets a five. It deserves a five. That's it.

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    Readers Comments

    john j.tutton@cant-col.ac.uk
    Have you gone completely crazy ! After the casual 'Kaya' of the previous year , this one is jaw dropping ! A fantastic album . Bob had obviously got bored of love songs and Ganja babble and decided to focus on something really important . Remember , aparthied was alive and well in S.A at this time ( supported , shamefully , by our own government under Thatcher ) , poverty was rife and racism apparent both home and abroad . Bob responded to this malise magnificently. 'Survival ' is a more rootsy effort than some of his recent output , and all the better for it . There are some of Bobs greatest songs on this offering . ' Top Rankin , ' is righteous , angry , accusational . ' Zimbabwe ' is sadly too prophetic , ' One Drop ' skanks like hell . ' Ambush In the Night ' is deeply personal ( he got shot for christs sake ! ) . Believe me , after stuff like 3 Little Birds and Misty Morning ( Kaya again ) this material is a revelation . Bob never sounded so angry , so ready for the fig! ht . All the more tragic he died soon after this as he still had so much to say . Get real , give it a 10 . This is the business !
    Damian toeragamuffin@hotmail.com
    I agree with John, Survival could possibly be my favourite Marley Album, and I have all of his official releases. marley means every word and his sincerity is expressed through awesome performances, grooves and melodies. This has to be music of God.

    Jason Southgate jason_southgate@hotmail.com
    Agreed John. This is a very strong album and the drum playing is second to none. The whole outfit is very tight and great production. Listen for the bird sounds on Babylon System!

    Stuart Baile
    I remenber asking a complete stranger at a recent Black Uhuru gig - what's the best Marley Album. No ifs or buts " Survival ". I asked why and he said because he meant business. It is a strong album full of messages and I like its directness. I would give it an 8 out 10. Please review again.

    top of page Uprising 7 ( 1980 )
    Coming In From The Cold / Real Situation / Bad Card / We And Dem / Work / Zion Train / Pimper's Paradise / Could You Be Loved / Forever Loving Jah / Redemption Song

    Bob turns in a couple of serious songs, a couple of less serious songs. A blissful disco reggae groove in the simply deliriously fabulous 'Could You Be Loved'. This is an easy album to listen to, and the grooves are strong, the melodies are strong. A simple Bob Marley album, in a sense. Easy for anybody to enjoy at least at some level. The opening 'Coming In From The Cold' is reggae blissful gold - relaxtion and playfulness in the Marley vocals. His sense of enjoyment comes through, and that's a great thing. 'Real Situation' is a pop reggae song with decent lyrics, 'Bad Card' uses keyboards and the Eighties were upon us, but it seems a natural progression and again, melody is key. 'We And Dem' is light, a groove that doesn't go anyplace interesting, too relaxed this time round. 'Work' is something, a delicious groove and half tired vocals, appropriate vocals! The entire album doesn't seem to go anyplace, especially the songs crowding the second side of the album, by which time - the sameness of the feel and the shared sound of the songs begins to tire the listener, perhaps?

    'Could You Be Loved' is a classic, a reggae radio staple, a classic song that would of course find its way onto Bob's big selling 'Legend' compilation, which is as good a way as any to enjoy Bob, actually. His individual albums are fine varying to good - but 'Legend' gives you most of what any casual listener will ever need. Buy 'Rastaman Vibration' as well, because it's good. Ah! The disco and funk and light playful melodies of 'Could You Be Loved' are just so very happy..... To counteract this moment of popular gold, 'Forever Loving Jah' and 'Redemption Song' are both serious sounding songs, especially the later, a piece of Reggae folk music, and heartbreakingly beautiful. 'Uprising' is patchy, if you pick through it - but ultimately easy to sit through. <

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    Manfred ymtrading@europe.com
    How somebody cannot give this album a 10 is beyond me! (OK, Im a die-hard-reggae fan...) Not one bad song, beautiful, groovy, serious, inspirational, SPIRITUAL. Very import music indeed by the artist of the century. My 3 favourite songs here: Work, Zion Train, Could you be loved Oh, did I forget? this album is also... melodic, laid-back, intense, rootsy, uplifting, thought-provoking => along with EXODUS the best album of all time of any musical field ( and I do admire the likes of Bob Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones, James Brown, etc.) What a man!

    top of page this page last updated 26/04/08

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