Thursday, 2 August 2018

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Confrontation (1983)

Rastaman live up, kinky man don't give up....


Released May 1983

Running time 37.47

"Confrontation" was released in 1983, posthumously, made up of session material left off the previous two or three albums. There is an understandable patchiness to it, but it still functions as a perfectly credible album. It is not just a collection of demos. It is much better than that.


1. Chant Down Babylon
2. Buffalo Soldier
3. Jump Nyabinghi
4. Mix Up, Mix Up
5. Give Thanks & Praises
6. Blackman Redemption
7. Trench Town
8. Stiff Necked Fools
9. I Know
10. Rastaman Live Up                                                              

"Chant Down Babylon" was based on the Rasta chanting tradition, but it is not a chant, like "Rasta Man Chant" from "Burnin'". It is a lilting, energetic, skanking workout - lively and catchy. Its message is one of rejecting the evils of Babylon and the oppressor. "Buffalo Soldier" is a horn-driven, bassy and melodic singalong number that became a huge hit, with its "woy-yo-yo" chorus. Its history lesson is interesting too, the I firs heard it, I had no idea that Jamaicans had been taken to fight in the US army in the early/mid nineteenth century, before emancipation. "Jump Nyabingi" apparently dates from the session for "Kaya", although, to be honest, it sounds far too lively to have sat well among the laid back grooves of that album, which is probably why it stayed on the cutting room floor. There are some strident I-Threes backing vocals and those"one-drop" drum sounds and rimshot that characterised the reggae sound of 77-78, from "Kaya" through to "Survival". "Mix Up, Mix Up" is also from the same period, and his lots of clarinet and synthesised sounds. It sounds a bit incomplete to me, as if the final few touches had never been put on it. Bob's vocal probably needed a re-take, to be honest, but it probably got forgotten about.

"Give Thanks And Praises" is a horn-driven, pumping but slow-paced skank from the "Uprising" sessions. It is a Rasta devotional, and its easy roots groove makes it feel one of the most complete and fulfilled songs on the album. "Blackman Redemption" is another lively corker, with the "cool runnings" line that was used as a film title several years later. "Trench Town" is a comparatively laid-back number that sees Marley singing about washing his hair in the river and "freeing the people with music" (echoing the earlier "Trenchtown Rock" iconic song). Despite is relaxing groove, it still has a big thumping bass and punchy horns.

"Stiff Necked Fools" is a bassy, potent rant from Bob about whoever the stiff-necked fools are against a superb guitar and keyboards backing. The drums on here are awesome too. "I Know" sounds almost like a soul/funk number, with some sweeping synthesised string passages replicating a soul orchestra. It almost sounds like a conscious effort to produce a funky soul single. There are snatches of the "I Shot The Sheriff" riff in there in places, too. As with many previous Marley albums, a "chant" style Rasta song' "Rasta Man Live Up",  ends proceedings The chant here is backed by an infectious skank and some great guitar.

"Rastaman live up - kinky man don't give up...". You said it Bob. 


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