Friday, 1 June 2018
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Songs Of Freedom Box Set
An excellent, career-spanning, 78 track box set including several “rarities”, 12” mixes and “alternate versions” and the like, which render it a different listen to a simple “best of” compilation of the studio recordings we all know. Examples are “Running Away (London Version)”, “Is This Love” (Horns Mix)”, and “Trenchtown Rock (Alternate Mix)” and others, which allow the listener to hear familiar songs in different styles, which is always interesting.
The set covers Marley’s early days as a rocksteady artist through to his years as a releaser of radio friendly “mainstream” reggae hits, through his various guises - romantic rhythmic crooner, laid back intuitive seducer, devout roots prophet, spiritual rastaman mystic, militant social campaigner. There are all in there. For many, Bob Marley IS reggae, listening to this you can understand why. Of course, there is so much more reggae out there, but if you only want a bit of it, but a bit more than a “greatest hits”, this will satisfy that need.
The sound quality is excellent throughout, and particularly impressive are the early tracks, such as “Judge Not” and “Bus Dem Shut (Pyaka)” which are far better than I ever expected them to be. Considering their age and that they were possibly recorded in pretty rudimentary conditions, the sound quality is extremely pleasing. The 12” versions are also an appealing listen, throwing new light on tracks like “Ride Natty Ride”, the catchy “One Drop” and “Coming In From The Cold”. Later tracks like “Forever Living Jah” and “Give Thanks And Praise” are a joy to rediscover.
Yes, everyone can put forward their omissions, but that’s not really the point of sets like this.