Top 100 Album Review: #46 – Legend, Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984)

All You Need to Know: 500 Weeks on Billboard’s Top Albums.

This reggae album is awesome not because of the genre but because of the song writing.

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #46/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

This album has achieved incredible staying power: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is the only album that’s been on the Billboards Top 200 Albums longer (another Top 100 Album selection).

What makes the album so good is that the songs themselves are so different even with the consistent reggae feel and rhythm. Put on any station dedicated to the genre and you will be lulled into lethargy as the monotonous sound waves melt into one another without distinction. Bob Marley and The Wailers, however, command your attention from start to finish with well-written songs, and this collection gives you the most powerful 15 examples of it.

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[OVERVIEW]

The group grew out of doing ska music, a type of Jamaican blues and calypso mix that was born in the 50s and precursor to more traditional reggae music (the Beatles/McCartney’s Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is an imitation of ska). There were a variety of people involved in the band, most notable Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. The band’s history is a bit confusing as many people left and were replaced and some songs were released under one group and then rereleased later on with different people.

This album is a collection of songs both done together as a group and with Bob Marley independently since the group disbanded in 1974. Marley survived an assassination attempt in Jamaica during 1976, and he relocated permanently to London where he recorded and released Exodus. This album could be considered a top 100 prospect in its own right, and many of its songs show up on this greatest hits album.

Marley would go on to represent the Rastafarian religion which is a collection of certain beliefs about Christianity,  pro-marijuana stance, use of certain word and phrases, and adherence to a particular diet. Marley would be diagnosed with skin melonoma cancer in 1981 and passed away in 1984 at the age 36. The Legend album was a posthumous one to commemorate his best music.

[TRACKLISTING]

  1. Is This Love 3:52
  2. No Woman No Cry 4:05 *
  3. Could You Be Loved 3:33
  4. Three Little Birds 2:56
  5. Buffalo Soldier 5:24
  6. Get Up Stand Up 3:17
  7. Stir It Up 3:38
  8. Easy Skanking
  9. One Love / People Get Ready 2:52 *
  10. I Shot The Sheriff 3:46
  11. Waiting In Vain 4:10
  12. Redemption Song 3:48
  13. Satisfy My Soul 3:45
  14. Exodus 5:24
  15. Jamming 3:17
  16. Punky Reggea Party
  • All songs written by Bob Marley except No Woman No Cry which was by Vincent Ford and People Get Ready by Curtis Mayfield. 

[BEST TRACK: Jamming]

This was a tough decision, but I think Jamming captures the best of Bob Marley & The Wailers — the reggae feel, message of being true to yourself, and catchy hooks.

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.

[BEST TRACK RUNNER-UP: Could You Be Loved]

What makes Stevie Wonder and Beatles music so good are the little bit of touches and flairs: they take a repeated line and change it with slight variations in presentation which turns a good song into an amazing song. Marley shows that same skill here.

Don’t let them change ya, oh
Or even rearrange ya
Oh, no
We’ve got a life to live
They say: only, only
Only the fittest of the fittest shall survive
Stay alive

[MOST LIKELY TO TRIP YOU UP DURING MUSIC TRIVIA: Three Little Birds]

You will most likely think the title of this song is something similar to “Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing” as that’s the repeated lyric and corner stone of the song. BUT NO: it’s actually titled after those three freakin’ birds.

Rise up this mornin’,
smiled with the risin’ sun,
three little birds
pitch by my doorstep
singin’ sweet songs
of melodies pure and true,
sayin’, (“this is my message to you-ou-ou:”)

[CONCLUSION]

The best reggae music paired with good song-writing equals perfection.

Other People’s Takes:

  • 42 RPM: “If you know nothing of reggae this is the album to start with; then evolve into other reggae bands.  It’s newcomer friendly. He’s a prophet that wants to spread peace and love through music.”
  • Alt Rock Chick: “Legend is a good starting point for an exploration of Bob Marley and the Wailers, a compilation album that spans a good chunk of their discography.”
  • Outside the Frame: “Whether as part of the original Wailers, as a solo artist or as a frontman, Bob Marley is a musician who transcends any boundaries of musical genre or taste. “

 

 

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

One thought on “Top 100 Album Review: #46 – Legend, Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984)”

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