|Bob Marley and The Wailers - The Best of the Early Years|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Tuesday, 05 November 2002|
The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the name of Bob Marley is ganja. However, there was much more to Marley and his music than sparking up a big spliff, which admittedly was fully entwined in his culture, his music and his philosophy. Bob Marley was a rebel, political and deeply spiritual. He was an advocate for the Third World and the high priest of Rasta, and he put reggae firmly on the pop map in the ‘70s. Some say reggae died when he did, or at the very least that this style of music faded into the background after Marley’s death.
Bands like Jimmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals tried to keep the reggae fire burning, but they never had the following that Marley enjoyed. His music spoke to you in a laid-back, easy manner. His message was simple yet complex, his style unique, beguiling and always positive.
Although I’m just a casual fan, the music on this DVD-Audio disc, Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Best Of The Early Years, gave me a better perspective of why Marley rose to the status he achieved and what his music was all about. The 18 tunes range in era from 1969 to 1978 and are a good representation of their respective time periods, allowing the listener to get an idea of the development the band went through. Most of the tunes were produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, adding his funky bass-laden production to 15 of the 18 tracks on this compilation, including “Sun Is Shining,” “Don’t Rock The Boat” and “Keep On Skanking.”
Although remastered for 5.1 playback, this compilation does not make much use at all of the rear channels. The sound is much improved with the 96-kHz/24-bit format, but the vocals still seem a bit muddy, not really benefiting from the remix, and lack some of the dynamics the music presents. This varies from song to song, depending on when and where the song was recorded. Some tunes definitely sound better than others, but overall this “Best of” seems a bit flat and does not really take advantage of the added bandwidth DVD-Audio offers. Nevertheless, the emotional content of the songs cannot be denied. The video content of the DVD-Audio is limited to a different picture of Bob with the track name. That’s it. No video of the band, no interviews or photo section. This is not a DVD-Audio recording that will wow you with sounds from all around you, or offer any bonus tracks and exclusive content, but it will allow the listener to really enjoy the music, which is really what it should be about anyway.
Jaunty tunes like “Duppy Conqueror,” “Keep On Moving” and “Lively Up Yourself” are highlighted by Marley’s soulful vocals. “Trench Town Rock” speaks of music soothing Marley’s inner self in the place where he grew up, with lyrics like “There’s one good thing about music, when it hits you (you feel no pain).” Vocal harmonies in “Soul Rebel” and “Kaya” are magical and transcend the music through emotion, which comes through regardless of the format it is recorded on. “Kaya” is the ganja saying, “I feel so high, I even touch the sky
above the falling rain.” Doesn’t get a whole lot more stoner than that. The DVD-Audio is pricey and lacks the benefits that a DVD-A can offer, so I’m not sure that a CD version wouldn’t be as good, but the music is excellent, and that is the magic that Bob Marley and the Wailers left us.