KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Forty Year Friday – BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS “EXODUS”

Artist: BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS
Album: EXODUS

[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]

bob-marley-the-wailers-exodusI previously discussed my introduction to the music of Bob Marley & The Wailers, via the essential Legend collection, in the 2014 post about Gateway Compilations, where I suggested that “there’s so much diversity in his discography that he almost transcends reggae.” That’s especially true on Exodus, his fifth studio album for Island Records, where reggae is merely the foundation on which his other influences take flight. Note that, although they were a band, I will refer to them in singular form throughout this post because Marley was the focal point & he wrote all the songs. That doesn’t detract from the incredible musicians he surrounded himself, who were much more than just Marley’s backing band: the longtime rhythm section of brothers Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass) & Carlton Barrett (drums), keyboardist Tyrone Downie, backing vocalists The I Threes (Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths & Judy Mowatt) and new guys Julian “Junior” Marvin (lead guitar) and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson (percussion). Although I rank several Marley albums higher than this one, it’s hard to dispute its importance in his career, with five of its ten tracks appearing on the aforementioned Legend. Ironically, most of those appear on the second half of the album, leaving some lesser-known songs up front at a time when record companies & radio stations still expected the hits to appear first.

bob-marley-the-wailers-image-from-exodus

Even the most casual Bob Marley fan will be familiar with those five songs: the biblical epic “Exodus” with its repeated “Movement of Jah people” refrain, the bouncy pop of “Jammin’,” the whimsical, childlike “Three Little Birds” (“This is my message to you-oo-oo”), the gorgeous shuffle-reggae ballad “Waiting In Vain” and album closer “One Love/People Get Ready,” which combines an updated version of an old Wailers song from the ‘60s with Curtis Mayfield’s socio-political classic, eventually becoming the tourism anthem of Jamaica. Exodus would be rightly celebrated even if the remainder of the album was forgettable, but that’s certainly not the case. “Natural Mystic” and “So Much Things To Say” are straightforward reggae in the best possible way. No new musical ground is broken but the rhythms & melodies are excellent. The defiant “Heathen” captures the spirit of the earlier Wailers lineup that included Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, especially at “De heathen back dey ‘pon de wall.” Hidden among the better-known songs in the second half of the album is the meditative “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” which has elements of West Coast smooth jazz and mid-’70s soft rock. This is not what most people would expect from Bob Marley but it’s further evidence of the panoramic scope of his musical genius (a word I don’t throw around often). His discography is worth exploring beyond a best-of collection, and Exodus is one of five or six albums that I consider essential. It also sounds timeless even after four decades.

 

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24 comments on “Forty Year Friday – BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS “EXODUS”

  1. Murphy's Law
    February 3, 2017

    The age-old question: “Do you listen to Bob Marley or do you listen to REAL reggae?” The answer of course is “yes”.

    Like

    • Very well stated. Marley somehow transcends reggae but also IS reggae…and so much more. One of the great songwriters & performers of all time, in any genre.

      Like

  2. Alyson
    February 3, 2017

    It’s a big Yes from my side of the pond this week – Transcends reggae, but he almost also transcends being a mere mortal. If you haven’t already seen it I thoroughly recommend you watch the Kevin Macdonald film “Marley” – Learnt so much more about the man. Every track on Exodus is excellent. Great Forty Year Friday pick!

    Like

    • Thanks, Alyson. I was hoping we would be on the same musical page again, so I’m glad that’s the case with Marley and “Exodus.” I haven’t seen that film yet but there were numerous Marley documentaries in the ’80s & ’90s and I saw all of them, so I feel like I know his story pretty well…although I will check out “Marley” at some point because, well, you can never spend too much time with him.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 1537
    February 3, 2017

    Good call and a great write up Rich. A real favourite of mine, but not quite as great as Rastaman Vibration for my money.

    Like

    • Thanks. Glad we agree on this one, as well as the greatness of Rastaman Vibration. That one, along with Catch A Fire, Natty Dread and Survival are probably my Top 4, with Exodus right behind them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 2loud2oldmusic
    February 3, 2017

    Great album. I was in Jamaica last week and they had a Bob Marley store in the airport. It was cool to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never been to Jamaica but I’m sure he’s a national treasure there. I wonder how he would feel about the commercialization of his music & image, although I’m sure he would be pleased that people of all ages, races, religions, etc. love his music.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vinyl Connection
    February 3, 2017

    Nice choice, Rich. Might just spin it on a hot Melbourne Saturday afternoon.

    Like

    • Thanks, Bruce. That sounds like the ideal soundtrack for your Saturday. Perhaps it will send you down a Marley-shaped wormhole that also includes my other favorites: Catch A Fire, Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibration and Survival. Enjoy the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. DanicaPiche
    February 3, 2017

    Excellent selection, Rich. It’s a good weekend for a Bob Marley weekend. 🙂

    Like

  7. Tangled Up In Music
    February 4, 2017

    Stunning album. There’s such a powerful vibe to it, like he’s onto something bigger.

    Like

    • I agree, Ovidiu. I get that sense from most of Marley’s albums, like he was always striving & seeking something better, for him, his loved ones, his fans, etc. How would you rank Exodus against other albums in his discography?

      Like

      • Tangled Up In Music
        February 4, 2017

        I only know Natty Dread, but I like Exodus better I think. I’m kind of a new fan.

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      • Natty Dread is a great one. If/when you dive further into the Marley catalog, I highly recommend Catch A Fire, Rastaman Vibration and Survival.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Victim of the Fury
    February 4, 2017

    The first of your 40-year Fridays that I don’t have. I only have the Legend compilation you mention and haven’t gone too much deeper. It’s funny, I seldom reach for Bob Marley but when I do, I always wonder why I don’t do it more often. Maybe because it always seems like music for times of love and joy and hope, and it is sometimes hard to already be in the mood pre-spin, and to forget that preemptive action can lead you to get there mid-spin.

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    • As I mentioned in this post, there’s some incredible music waiting for you whenever you decide to explore the Marley catalog beyond Legend. It’s a great primer but only scratches the surface. I hope the mood strikes you at some point.

      Like

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