Starting in relative obscurity in Trenchtown, Jamaica, with The Wailers, Marley’s career lasted less than 20 years. By the time he died of cancer as a solo artist — at the far-too-young age of 36 — there were few places in the world where Bob Marley‘s name was not known, especially by people of colour and the downtrodden.
This tribute song makes the point far better than I could.
Scoot Irwin, friend to the Newsroom, reminded this writer of Marley’s upcoming birthday on the weekend, making today’s choice for a Monday Musical Appreciation a no-brainer. Then, as if by Jah, before Not Now Silly even began preparations, a news story came in unbidden over the transom. It turns out that some of Marley’s earliest live recordings were rediscovered and cleaned up. In the Guardian article ‘Spine-tingling’ lost Bob Marley tapes restored after 40 years in a cellar we learn:
The 13 reel-to-reel, analogue master tapes were discovered in cardboard box files in a run-down hotel in Kensal Rise, north-west London, the modest lodgings where Bob Marley and the Wailers stayed during their European tours in the mid-1970s.
The tapes – known as “the lost masters” among elements of Marley’s huge fanbase – were at first believed to be ruined beyond repair, largely through water damage. Yet after more than 12 months of painstaking work using the latest audio techniques, the master reels have been restored, with the sound quality of Marley – who died in 1981 but would have been 72 on Monday– described as enough to “send shivers down one’s spine”.
The tapes are the original live recordings of Marley’s concerts in London and Paris between 1974 and 1978, and feature some of his most famous tracks including No Woman No Cry, Jammin, Exodus and I Shot the Sheriff.
These were among Marley’s first concerts after going solo, recorded with the Rolling Stones mobile unit, said to be the only 24-track mobile studio in England at the time. Shows on these tapes include the London Lyceum (1975), Hammersmith Odeon (1976), and Pavilion de Paris (1978). There’s no word on whether these shows will be released commercially.
Live, with special lyrics name-checking President Barack Obama
Recently one of Marley’s earliest interview was released online. While the sound quality is not that great, it’s still wonderful to listen to a musician just on the cusp of international fame.
Bob Marley also popularized the Rastafarian religion, adopted by so many people who know and care nothing about Emperor Haile Selassie, whose name was Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael. Ras was his title, which roughly translates as “head” or “ruler.”
The shame of Marley having died so young is that we were deprived of the songs and collaborations that would have come.
There’s an entire school of thought (on which NNS is reserving judgement) that Bob Marley was assassinated by the CIA, because his brand of pan-Africanism was perceived dangerous to The Powers That Be. [Read: White people.]
As we are fond of saying here in the Not Now Silly Newsroom: It’s in the grooves. Here are some Bob Marley tunes you should never be without . . . and they’re not the ones that most people know, nor are they all political. However, the first one should give hope to all opposed to Emperor Trump.
Crank it up and D A N C E ! ! !