|Bob Marley - One Love|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 22 May 2001|
To this day, Bob Marley continues to single-handedly define the genre of reggae nearly 20 years after his passing. It can be argued that Eric Clapton’s cover of "I Shot the Sheriff" was responsible for making Marley world-famous, but no matter where you first developed your appreciation for Marley’s music, his sauntering rhythms and poignant lyrics speak to the masses with an appeal reserved for the most elite performers of all time.
One Love is arranged in chronological order, with the best tunes cherry-picked from each of Marley’s records. While many of the versions of the tunes on One Love are straight from the studio album, tunes like "Stir It Up," "Exodus" and "Buffalo Soldier" are rarer edits and/or single versions.
Marley’s career is filled with spectacularly well-crafted studio tunes. Of specific note is the live version of "No Woman, No Cry." Found on the Bob Marley and the Wailers Live album, this tune highlights Marley and his longtime band the Wailers’ ability to avoid the pitfall of over-playing. As the guitarist of a very amateur cover band, Ghetto Chicken, that has been known to kill a Marley tune every once and a while, I have a renewed appreciation for the spectacular timing of Marley and the Wailers. With percussion, organs, guitars, background vocals and more, their original rendition of the song layers into a nearly spiritual experience.
At Marley’s most political and possibly his funkiest comes "Get Up, Stand Up" from 1973’s Burnin’ recording. While the resolution of this recording doesn’t have the excellent layering and depth heard on virtually all of the other tracks on One Love, its message of empowerment is timeless. At the same time, Marley’s vocals are mastered and mixed with wonderful presence. The percussion mixed in with slithering guitar riffs makes for the tastiest of raggae tunes.
As Marley’s career progressed, his sound remained faithful to his early work, while the production quality got better and better. Another politically-oriented song, "So Much Trouble In The World," is an open-eyed look at human existence, which seems to be the heart and soul of reggae. The fact that the funk factor is off the hook only helps to drive Marley’s message home.
If I was to pick one cut on One Love that I was going to wow someone with, it would be "Could You Be Loved." With an ultimate funkability and a devastating hook, "Could You Be Loved" is Marley at the top of his game. By the end of the cut, I felt a separation anxiety that could be addressed only by reaching for the remote to replay the song.
The recording and, even more important, the mastering quality, of One Love is stellar – far better than you might expect. On each track, no matter the vintage, the vocals have a warm yet vibrant presence without ever sounding harsh or fatiguing. The bass is round and while never going insanely deep, it radiates effectively to keep you moving all the way through the compilation.
A score of 10 for performance on AudioRevolution.com cannot be taken lightly. This record is of the absolute highest level of performance, summing up the fantastic but tragically short career of one of the greatest musician-songwriters of the 20th century. If your Marley collection is less than complete, consider buying One Love and an introduction to some of the best songs from each of his studio records, but don’t stop there - invest in the entire catalogue over time. There are many more gems to discover. Even if you are pretty well stocked with Marley records, the mastering quality and its ability to live in your car CD player means that you absolutely cannot ignore One Love. With this many hits in a row, it never lets you down.