Friday, September 28, 2007

No. 169: Exodus

Band: Bob Marley & The Wailers
Album: Exodus
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of Marley's great albums, "Exodus" has some of his best work. In addition to the greatness of "Natural Mystic," "Three Little Birds" and "Guiltiness," Marley also brought three of his signature songs, "Jamming," ""One Love/People Get Ready" and "Waiting In Vain."
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'd probably, for sheer greatness of it's being, put this as the first Marley record on the list. It's a remarkable record.
Best song: "One Love/People Get Ready" and "Three Little Birds" close out the album in spectacular fashion.
Worst song: "The Heathen" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Yes, absolutely.

Again, one of the hopes for this project is for me to expand my musical tastes a little bit and actually sitting down and listening to Marley has really heightened my appreciation for his music. "Exodus" is a wonderful record in the same vein as "Master Of Puppets." While it's not hugely diverse, it's a near perfection of the genre.

Marley, of course, survived an assassination attempt in 1976 and was recuperating in England while he recorded this record, hence the title "Exodus." England's dub movement plays a big role, as Marley's writing showed a lot of signs of the dub stuff in songs like "Jamming" and "One Love/People Get Ready." The slowed down rhythm hits the songs well, and the dub serves it well.

The sunny-tinged optimism of "Three Little Birds" might be Marley's greatest triumph. Written both about the I Threes -- Marley's three backup singers -- and the birds that would eat Marley's discarded marijuana seeds as he rolled his joints on his back porch in London.

"Exodus" takes the story of Moses and mirrors it with the Rastafarians' movement within their religion. "Jamming" is Marley's best dance track and one of his most famous record. "Waiting In Vain" has the air of a June day, while the lyrics of the song are considerably more melancholy. Still, a fantastic record.

Of course, "One Love" is one of Marley's greatest songs. As he takes from Curtis Mayfield's civil rights revolutionary anthem, "People Get Ready," he takes his religious effects to bring about peace. Always a pacifist, Marley's "lets get together and feel all right" line evokes both a group prayer and the classic sex-as-cure philosophy.

Marley's music doesn't hit ever genre; It's pretty formulaic if you have all his records. still, "Exodus" is a wonderful exercise in reggae greatness.

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