Try to forget about Bob Marley the cultural phenomenon — the handsome Rastafarian rebel, the voice of Trenchtown and the people, and the larger-than-life personification of reggae music. He was, and still is, a symbol of when responsibility meets spirituality. Deeper down, there is a reason his influence endures so many years after his death in 1981: the music he created.
The Marley family has released the three-LP collection of “Bob Marley & The Wailers – Live!” on 180-gram vinyl and as a digital package, culled from recordings from the group’s performances at the Lyceum Theatre in London July 17 and 18, 1975. The packaging also includes a reproduction of the tour program.
The album, which was recorded using the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio, sets the tone with rally calls for equality and to unite the working and middle class on the opening cuts of “Trenchtown Rock,” “Burning and Looting” and “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock).” The majority of the songs on the second half of the collection are the previously unreleased set from the July 17 show, and include live versions of the classics “Stir It Up” and “Get Up Stand Up.”
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These songs channeling politics and religion seem timeless when captured in front of a raptured audience. They are as relevant to our class struggles today between the haves and the have nots as in 1970s Jamaica.
Marley and the Wailers are in top form musically on this set, and shift seamlessly from class struggles to bittersweet tales of love. Magic abounds as Marley animatedly interacts with the crowd, who sing along to what most consider the definitive version of “No Woman, No Cry.”
The band is powerful in its subtlety, and the space in between what is being played is as important as the notes you hear. Marley and the Wailers’ alchemy turned reggae culture into something accessible by the mainstream. You can hear it happening.
If you are a casual fan or a member of the Marley Movement, this is an essential addition to your session soundtrack music.