Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The legend known as Bob Marley

Without realising it, I heard my first reggae song in 1969. At that time, I didn't understand that it was a music genre known as reggae. All I knew then was that it had a nice infectious beat to it. Lyrics? I didn't know what was being sung and I never bothered to find out. What mattered to me then, and what mattered a lot to me now, is the tune. Lyrics are secondary. And over the years, I've listened to many more reggae tunes. But the very first reggae song that done me in was Desmond Dekker's Israelite.

Until very recently though, I have only one reggae record album in my music collection, notably Herbie Mann's Reggae.  However, all that changed when I chanced upon an album by Bob Marley and the Wailers in a local music store here in Penang. I mulled several weeks over whether or not I should buy the copy of Bob Marley's Legend album. Would I actually like it? So I did the logical thing that any music fan would do nowadays. Listen to the tracks on the Internet first and then decide whether to buy.

Many weeks later, I decided that perhaps I should buy it. After all, Bob Marley was the Godfather of reggae artistes and Legend was reputedly the best compilation album of Bob Marley and the Wailers. The original album was released in 1984 which was 30 years ago. At that time it featured only 14 tracks and appeared as a single album. Over the years, several versions were released as compact discs and more recently, Legend was expanded with the addition of two previously unreleased songs.

Anyway, I was surprised that the copy of Legend that I purchased was the 30th anniversary edition. Not only was it re-issued as a re-mastered vinyl record, my copy came as a limited edition double album and was pressed as tri-colour vinyl discs. I've just read that there's only 1,000 copies available world-wide and so, it must be a record of sorts that a local music store had managed to bring in at least one copy of it. By the way, the colours of red, gold and green is a celebration of the Rastafari movement of which Marley was a committed Rastafarian.

As a double album, this meant that there are less tracks on each of the four sides of the album, which allows for the reproduction of a better sound definition. Thus, not only were the music on the records very clear, there was little surface noise on them, which made for a very enjoyable listening experience. I'm rather chuffed that I bought this new addition to my record collection! Totally unexpected. Shows that modern technology does improve analogue music as well.

Oh yes, I've just read on the Rolling Stone website today that Legend is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Since its release in 1984, the "Best of" collection has sold over 11 million copies in the United States alone (worldwide sales not disclosed) and it has spent nearly 300 weeks on the Billboard 200. Yet, for all its accolades and achievements, Legend has never appeared in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart until this week. Billboard said that due to deal with Google Play where digital copies of Legend are on sale for 99 cents, Marley's Legend is on course to finish in the top 10 for the first time since 1976.

Side One: Is this love, No woman no cry, Could you be loved, Three little birds
Side Two: Buffalo soldier, Get up stand up, Stir it up, Easy skanking
Side Three: One love/people get ready, I shot the sheriff, Waiting in vain, Redemption song
Side Four: Satisfy my soul, Exodus, Jamming, Punky reggae party

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