Thursday, 13 June 2019

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Babylon By Bus (1978)

Lively up yourself....


Recorded live at The Pavilion de Paris, June 1978

Running time 69.37

This was Bob Marley & The Wailers' second official live album, after the seminal, now iconic Live! from 1975 and it features a band now at the peak of their popularity. It is recorded in Paris and that shows just how reggae had spread around the globe by 1978. Associated as a sibling of punk, Marley and his wonderful band had their biggest hit with their Exodus album in the previous year and this was a tour of a triumphant, commercial band aiming to please. They were no longer a cult group.


1. Positive Vibration
2. Punky Reggae Party
3. Exodus
4. Stir It Up
5. Rat Race
6. Concrete Jungle
7. Kinky Reggae
8. Lively Up Yourself
9. Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)
10. War/No More Trouble
11. Is This Love
12. The Heathen
13. Jamming                                                    

For me, this leads to a slight loss of that raw edginess that 1973's Live From Leeds University that comes as part of the Burnin' Deluxe Edition and it certainly lacks the crucial rootsiness of the Live! material. There are rootsy cuts, despite that, however - Kinky Reggae and Positive Vibration  - but I feel some of the numbers, such as Exodus, Punky Reggae Party and even Stir It Up are given a bit of a crowd-pleasing makeover. Both Punky Reggae Party and Exodus, while thumping and powerful, lose a bit of that essential Marley dubbiness, keyboards taking over a bit.

Lively Up Yourself, although infectious as always, does not come over as authentic as it did on Live!. This is very harsh, actually, because this is still a very impressive, vibrant and enjoyable live album.

For some reason, though, I find the real essence of Marley live is to be found on Leeds, Live!, the live tracks from Rastaman Vibration's Deluxe Edition and the live cuts from the Exodus 40 release. Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Road Block) sounds great, however, nice and bassy, as is War/No More Trouble.

Guitarist Al Anderson is really making his presence felt by now and Carlton Barrett is excellent, as always, on drums. The group now have hits to offer, and the crowd duly respond to Is This Love and Jamming. In between those two, pleasingly, for me, is the rootsy The Heathen. Look, I still enjoy this album a lot, my comments are tiny, nit-picking ones. It is still highly recommended.