Bob Marley is trending on Twitter today. 30 years after his death, the impact of his songs remains palpable. Sometimes it seems the only Bob tunes you hear are those that made it to Legend. Here are five somewhat overlooked Marley tracks I’d like to bump into more often.
Lots of people flock to reggae because the beats are so supple, so elastic. Here’s a great example of the Wailers’ rhythm section bending the action every which way. Of course Marley’s lyric of liberation drives the freedom fighting vibe, too.
Before the sage philosophy came the jumping grooves, and this early ska track reminds us that Saint Bob enjoyed a good party now and then. And it’s got a legacy, too. The Specials and the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones both covered it. Irresistible.
Marley’s lyrics always cut to the chase, and this song’s opening line is one of his most famous: “One good thing about music — when it hits, you feel no pain.” The 1971 track bristles with ghetto authority, urging listeners to revel in the healing power of song. No surprise it was the best-selling single in Jamaica that year, setting the stage for his global stardom.
Treachery was in the air when he penned this gem from Rastaman Vibration. But even this kind of indictment is delivered with a gentle lilt.
The final track on Burnin’ is a hymn that floats in the air forever, with a pulsing groove that has a little Booker T & the MGs in it.
Here’s an old “Great Marley Tracks” list a colleague and I made at VH1 years ago.