Monday, September 4, 2017

Classic Album Review: Bob Marley & The Wailers - Exodus (1977)

When people think of reggae, Bob Marley is usually the first artist they think of. And with good reason – Marley and his supporting cast have been at the very forefront of the genre for the best part of 45 years, even today, more than 35 years after Marley’s premature death in 1981.

Such was the quality of The Wailers’ output throughout the Seventies, with a succession of fine albums, Marley left a mark on popular culture that can never be denied. Without having the documentary evidence to support such a claim, obviously, I reckon Bob Marley is singularly responsible for turning more people on to reggae than any other artist.

Exodus is the album many believe to be The Wailers’ finest moment (Kaya just shades it in my view, but I know that’s only a personal thing), conceived and mostly recorded in London in 1977 following an attempt on Marley’s life back in Jamaica.

In 2017, Exodus celebrates its 40th anniversary, with deluxe packages of the original coming in a variety of different formats, depending on the amount of discretionary cash you’re prepared to part with. I’m fairly certain there’s double, triple, and quadruple LP options for this year’s deluxe-fest, all including live versions and alternate mixes.

This is the Wailers in its post-Peter Tosh, post-Bunny Wailer form, but the famous I-Threes remain a crucial ingredient, and there simply isn’t a dud moment on Exodus. All of the expected political and social references points are covered and it features many of Marley’s best known tracks.

Highlights: the title track itself is often too readily overlooked but it was surely one of Marley’s peaks, from both a song-writing and performance perspective. The best of the rest include: the beautifully crafted ‘Natural Mystic’, ‘Jammin’, ‘Waiting In Vain’, ‘Three Little Birds’, and ‘One Love/People Get Ready’.

Most people will have a copy of Legend in their music collection, and that works fine as an overview, in a singles context, but Exodus is something else altogether, and for those who feel the need for a little more, this one comes highly recommended. I would also suggest you pick up a copy of Kaya (1978) while you’re at it.

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