Monday, October 8, 2007

No. 182: Natty Dread

Band: Bob Marley & The Wailers
Album: Natty Dread
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The first Wailers album sans Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer (nee Livingston), Natty Dread is a powerful album of powerful message reggae containing three of the more religious songs in Marley's oeuvre.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The universal appeal of reggae is lost somewhat in that the songs are so very Jamaicocentric*.
Best song: "No Woman, No Cry" is the signature song, and fittingly. It's pretty great.
Worst song: The cover of Bo Diddley's "Mona" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: It's overkill, but it's also a quality album.

The difference between "Exodus" and "Natty Dread" is pretty vast. "Natty Dread" is something of a hybrid record; The more general themes of love, peace and compassion are set off by the more overt Rastafarian songs.

The Rastafarian theme is great on "Catch A Fire," but mostly because of the consistency of the songs. "Natty Dread" doesn't have that consistency. "No Woman, No Cry" is of the more general vein and it's clearly one of Marley's best records. On the other hand, "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" is a socially mature record about hunger

Without Livingston and Tosh, Marley's songwriting had yet to mature. The opener, "Lively Up Yourself," is a nice little blues-influenced thing, but it's almost nascent in its simplicity. The title track is similarly facile, though considerably more interesting.

Overall, it's a scene of a band in transition. Marley's songwriting is maturing and the band is coalescing with him.

(I may have made up that word. I don't know.)

No comments: