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The legend of ‘Legend’: How Bob Marley’s music got posthumously bleached for white people
07.02.2014
11:51 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Bob Marley


 
Although for some, Legend, the best-selling anthology of Bob Marley’s music originally released in 1984, is their gateway drug into the world of reggae music, most hardcore reggae fans would have no use for the album at all. Frankly I’m one of them. Legend, to me, is (with the exception of a few tracks) the blandest of the bland, on par with Phil Collins or Billy Joel. But there is a reason for that… a pretty interesting reason that I’ll get to in a minute.

I think the matter has long been settled, though, on Legend‘s status as an all-time classic album—it’s sold well over 27 million copies worldwide and continues to sell another 250,000 copies annually in the United States alone—and the occasion for this post isn’t to bestow (inflict?) my opinion of it upon you or anything. That reason would be UMe’s new 30th anniversary edition of Legend which came out yesterday, as remastered in stereo and 5.1 surround by producer Bob Clearmountain, one of the best in the business.

I may have just stated that I’m rather lukewarm about Legend, but holy shit does this sound amazing (Thankfully UMe issued the anthology on a Blu-ray disc (along with a CD) and not just a regular DVD). If you are already fan of the collection, I’d have to say that this rates a “must buy.” Hearing Marley’s music—even the inoffensive selection on Legend—opened up into the wide sonic vistas that the multi-channel format allows for, Clearmountain’s surround sound revisioning of these songs is quite remarkable. If you already own Legend on vinyl or CD (or both) you won’t feel like a chump at all for buying it again. Like I say, it’s pretty impressive on the audiophile level, almost like hearing these songs for the very first time.

In many respects, the song selection of Legend provides the listener with a misleading notion of what Bob Marley was all about. Where were all the songs about hunger, survival and ghetto uprising? Aside from “Get Up Stand Up,” where’s the militant Marley represented?

It turns out that the militant side of Bob Marley is how Island Records owner Chris Blackwell originally wanted to memorialize his friend, but the man he handed the job of making Legend happen to—Island’s UK manager Dave Robinson (co-founder of the Stiff Records label)—had a different vision: Robinson wanted to sell Bob Marley albums—boatloads of ‘em—to white people.

Of course Bob Marley was a worldwide superstar during his lifetime, but he wasn’t a platinum-selling artist (Exodus sold about 650,000 copies in America, 200,000 in Britain). The track selection on Legend was made very carefully and justified by focus groups along the way to appeal to just about everyone and offend no one.

In “The Whitewashing of Bob Marley,” the fascinating cover story of this week’s LA WEEKLY, writer Chris Kornelis describes how Marley’s music came to be sold to the suburbs:

It’s not that Bob Marley didn’t have white fans when he was alive. Caucasian college students in the United States - particularly those around Midwestern schools, including the University of Michigan, Prevost says - constituted a large percentage of his fan base. But for the compilation to meet Robinson’s lofty sales goals, those students’ parents had to buy the album, too.

Robinson had a hunch that suburban record buyers were uneasy with Marley’s image - that of a perpetually stoned, politically driven iconoclast associated with violence. So he commissioned London-based researcher Gary Trueman to conduct focus groups with white suburban record buyers in England. Trueman also met with traditional Marley fans to ensure that the label didn’t package the album in a way that would offend his core audience.

Less than a decade before violence and drugs became a selling point for gangsta rap, the suburban groups told Trueman precisely what Robinson suspected: They were put off by the way Marley was portrayed. They weren’t keen on the dope, the religion, the violent undertones or even reggae as a genre. But they loved Marley’s music.

“There was almost this sense of guilt that they hadn’t got a Bob Marley album,” Trueman says. “They couldn’t really understand why they hadn’t bought one.”

Legend may be a “tame” “lite FM” version of Bob Marley, but nearly 30 million albums later, who can quibble with any of it? And trust me, the new 5.1 surround mix of the album will blow your doors off and make you want more… The more militant stuff, but I’m sure that’s to come.

Below, Bob Marley accepts the UN Peace Medal at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, June 15, 1978.  You will probably want to turn on the subtitles.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Marley talks marijuana and Rastafari: ‘Herb is the healing of the nation’
09.09.2013
09:37 am

Topics:
Drugs
Music

Tags:
Marijuana
Bob Marley
Reggae


 
And yea, Bob said unto the unbelievers, “Herb is the healing of the nation,” and it is “cool.” For those that smoke the herb shall bring their heads together to think one way. And Bob decreed that the herb was like a man drinking water, and though it be illegal, recall that the man who made the law was a baby once. For when you smoke the herb it reveals unto you yourself. Here endeth the lesson from the book of Bob.

Vintage interview with Mr. Bob Marley, in which he discussed his thoughts on Rastafari, the use of the “herb” and why alcohol is far more dangerous drug than marijuana. The video quality is slightly trippy, but there is much here to relish.

Check here for Bob’s interview with High Times from 1976.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bob Marley tour guide’s epic laugh (and epic joint) will brighten your Thursday
08.15.2013
08:21 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Bob Marley
Captain Crazy
Nine Mile


 
The good in life is this gentleman’s distinctive laugh and a big spliff.

He’s known as “Captain Crazy” and apparently gives delightful tours of various Bob Marley-related locations around Nine Mile in Jamaica.

 
h/t reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Curious ‘Bob Marley’ belt buckle
05.22.2013
11:32 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
Bob Marley
Che Guevara


 
This “Bob Marley” belt buckle reminds me a lot of a previously featured “Bob Marley” item, the hilarious t-shirt by African Apparel which you can view, below.

Unlike the shirt, I’m not sure if this belt buckle is ironic or just… Made in China?
 

 
With thanks to Skye Nicolas!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bob Marley and The Wailers live and soulful in Edmonton, England, 1973
02.06.2013
02:25 am

Topics:
Music
Reggae

Tags:
Bob Marley


 
Happy birthday Bob. We miss you.

Bob Marley and The Wailers at The Sundown Theater in Edmonton, England. May, 1973

“Slave Driver”
“Stop That Train”
“Get Up, Stand Up”

According to reports at the time, most of the audience at this Wailers gig didn’t “get” the group. Marley was still somewhat of an enigma and the Wailers were sonically much more adventurous than some of the other acts on the bill that day. In his book Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley‘s Wailers, author John Masouri experienced something extraordinary:

Marley is a vibrant, charismatic figure with his wild hair and tight trousers.  He’s full of smiles as he strikes rock poses, playing around with the phrasing of certain songs and joining Tosh on a highly charged, semi-acapella version of “Get Up Stand Up”.  Livingston is again hunched over his congas, and Lindo’s playing is more free form than Bundrick’s studio embellishments.  It’s a joy to see him dancing behind his twin keyboards as the Barrett’s anchor proceedings with transcendent drum and bass. The sound quality is good too which must have made a welcome change.“

To me, this is Marley at his nitty grittiest and I love it.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Bob Marley cable organizer
02.05.2013
04:17 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Bob Marley
Cables


 
There should be some type of law that forces us all to store our cables this way.

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bob Marley gets the heavy metal treatment
09.10.2012
09:02 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Bob Marley


 
A totally ridiculous (but boy does it work with the video!) metal version of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” by Andy Rehfeldt.  You can almost believe this is real.
 

 
Via KMFW

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Kevin Macdonald’s ‘Marley’ documentary
03.13.2012
07:26 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Bob Marley
Kevin Macdonald


 
Made with the blessings and full cooperation of Bob Marley’s family, Kevin Macdonald’s sprawling, two and a half hour documentary Marley is an emotionally engaging and beautifully filmed tribute to one of the great spiritual forces in music history. A revealing and well-rounded testament, Marley digs deep into the psychological and sociological forces that drove Bob Marley to create great art and eventually become an international symbol of inspiration to people everywhere. From Zimbabwe and Jamaica to the suburbs of privilege in America. Marley’s message of peace, love and human rights cut through all stratas of society and was Universal in its power and authenticity.

Marley walked it like he talked it and Macdonald’s film makes it absolutely clear that Marley was willing to put his life on the line for his beliefs…literally. His efforts to serve as peacemaker between warring political factions in Jamaica had earned him countless enemies and on December 3, 1976 he was wounded in an assassination attempt. The persuasive sting of a bullet didn’t for a moment stop Marley from his mission to unify his homeland.

Marley the movie is not blind to the contradictions and complexities in Marley the man. He was a “half-caste” who struggled with racial identity and was bullied relentlessly as a child for being neither white or black. In learning to balance the yin/yang of this racial polarity, Marley became an embodiment of the ‘“One Love” he preached of so passionately.

The film touches on Marley’s legendary womanizing. In interviews with his wife Rita and several ex-girlfriends, there is a bittersweet acceptance of some of the sexism in the patriarchal Rastafari culture. But if you look closer, you will see that Marley’s life was shaped by strong women and his attempts to control them was akin to a boat attempting to control a typhoon.

Marley is composed of some terrific restored concert footage and a wealth of anecdotes from friends and fellow musicians. A highlight is Bunny Wailer’s humorous account of how The Wailers overcame stage fright by rehearsing in a cemetery at night. Perhaps this was the seed that led to the song “Duppy Conqueror.” [Duppy being Jamaican patois for ghost.]

Is Marley the last word on Bob Marley? In addressing that question at the film’s SXSW premiere, director Macdonald commented on the distinction between an authoritative and definitive film on Marley’s life. “About 30 minutes,” he said. We’ll have to wait until that 30 minutes pops up as an extra on the DVD box set.

During a Q&A at SXSW, Ziggy Marley was asked to summarize his father’s legacy. He replied with one word: “love.”

 


 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Rastafari not a culture, it’s a reality’: Bob Marley interview from 1980


 
One of the highlights (so far) of the 2012 SXSW Film Festival was Sunday’s screening of Kevin Macdonald’s two and a half hour documentary on Bob Marley, Marley. Watching the film is a powerful experience and I plan to review it in full in the next few days. In the meantime, I want to share this interview with Marley conducted by Gil Noble for his New York-based show Like It Is from 1980, portions of which are featured in Macdonald’s documentary. It captures his bullshit-free forthrightness, his grace and passion. It was one of Marley’s last interviews before he was decimated by cancer.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Bob Derply: Terrifying Bob Marley graffiti
10.17.2011
10:25 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Bob Marley
graffiti


 
Redditor cc132 says, “I live next door to this terrifying piece of shit. The longer you stare at it, the funnier it gets.”

Yes. Yes, it does.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Superb documentary series: ‘Reggae - The History of Jamaican Music’

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If you love Reggae, if you love music, then you’ll love this excellent 3-part documentary - Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. Originally shown on the BBC in 2002, parts of this documentary have been on YouTube over the years, but now some kind soul has uploaded the whole series for our delight. How wonderful. Enjoy.
 

 
Parts 2 & 3, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bob Marley died 30 years ago today
05.11.2011
12:38 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Bob Marley


 
Here’s a nice tribute to Bob Marley by Safari Sound. I admit they’re the obvious Marley tracks, but I’ll be damned if I could find a rare tracks mix. Still any Bob is better than no Bob, right? 

Tracklist:

01- Natural Mystic
02- Exodus
03- Zion Train
04- Satisfy My Soul
05- Lively Up Yourself
06- Jammin
07- Buffalo Soldier
08- Crazy Baldheads
09- Sun Is Shinning
10- Forever Loving Jah
11- Rebel Music
12- Rat Race
13- War
14- Johnny Was A Good Man
15- Concrete Jungle
16- I Shot The Sheriff
17- Bad Card
18- Redemption Song
19- Could You Be Loved
20- Coming In From The Cold
21- Stir It Up
22- Three Little Birds
23- One Love
24- So Much Trouble In The World
25- Get Up Stand Up
26- Soul Rebel
27- Chant Down Babylon
28- Survival
29- The Heathen
30- Slave Driver
31- Who The Cap Fit
32- Belly Full
33- Burning And Looting
34- Top Ranking
35- Kinky Reggae
36- Roots Rock Reggae
37- Pimpers Paradise
38- Is This Love
39- No Woman No Cry
40- Waiting In Vain

  
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bob Marley and The Wailers in concert, Dortmund 1980
04.06.2011
03:43 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Marley
Reggae
The Wailers
Dortmund

image
 
A classic concert of Bob Marley and The Wailers from the Uprising tour, recorded live in Dortmund, Germany, June 12, 1980.

Track Listing

01. “Natural Mystic”
02. “Positive Vibration”
03. “Revolution”
04. “I Shot The Sheriff”
05. “War” / “No More Trouble”
06. “Zimbabwe”
07. “Jammin’”
08. “No Woman, No Cry”
09. “Zion Train”
10. “Exodus”
11. “Redemption Song”
12. “Could You Be Loved?”
13. “Work”
14. “Natty Dread”
15. “Is This Love?”
16. “Get Up, Stand Up”
17. “Coming In From The Cold”
18. “Lively Up Yourself”
 

 
Previously on DM

Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s iconic photographs of Bob Marley and the golden age of Reggae


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s iconic photographs of Bob Marley and the golden age of Reggae

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This month, the Proud Gallery in Camden, London, presents Bob Marley and The Golden Age of Reggae, an exhibition of Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s brilliant and evocative photographs of Jamaican artists Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

During 1975 and 1976, renowned photo-journalist Kim Gottlieb-Walker and her husband, Head of Publicity at Island Records Jeff Walker, documented what is now widely recognised as the golden age of reggae. Kim took iconic photographs of the artists and producers who would go on to define an era and captivate a generation.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death this May, Proud Galleries has worked with Kim Gottlieb-Walker to create an exhibition of candid and intimate portraits, including never before seen shots, of one of the most exciting moments in recent musical history with a warmth and intimacy born out of the respect between artist and photographer.

During her long career, Kim Gottllieb-Walker’s has documented many of the best known and important cultural figures of the past 5 decades, from Jimi Hendrix through Bob Marley to Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and John Carpenter. Kim sees herself as “the opposite of a paparazzi”:

“Rather than ‘take’ photos, the process is one of giving. The subject entrusts themselves to me and in return, I respect their privacy and their sensibilities and do my best to capture them at their most beautiful and expressive—a mutual act of giving. On the set, I see myself as a ‘recording angel’ who’s there to document what happens for posterity—a historian more than an artist—capturing the moments worth preserving.”

Bob Marley and The Golden Age of Reggae runs from 7th April - 15th May at the Proud Gallery, London.

Kim Gottllieb-Walker’s photographic book Bob Marley and The Golden Age of Reggae is available from Titan Books here.
 
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Previously on DM

‘Stir It Up’: Video of Bob Marley and The Wailers rehearsal session


 
More superb photos after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Marcia Griffiths: The Queen of Reggae

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Presented here, for no other reason than I simply can’t get this song out of my head... Marvelous rocksteady classic from Marcia Griffiths, one of the standout cuts—indeed it is thee title track—on the essential Feel Like Jumping: Best of Studio One Women collection. “Studio One,” was considered the “Motown of Jamaica” and this cut shows why that’s an accurate description.

Griffiths, known as “the Queen of Reggae” was a member of the I-Threes, the female trio of backing vocalists who toured and recorded with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Her 1976 song “Electric Boogie” holds the record for the best-selling reggae song by a female vocalist and is the soundtrack to the popular late 80s line-dance craze, “The Electric Slide.”
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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