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Bob Marley and the Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston '78

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston '78

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston '78

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CD and DVD of the June 8th, 1978 performance in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston '78It is a credit to Bob Marley and his legacy, that after almost 35 years since his passing he is still able to top the charts. And so it is, that this June 8th, 1978 performance in Boston, Massachusetts, has been tweaked, tossed and turned to yield a CD and DVD that was able to command the No. 1 spot on the Reggae Billboard's chart and retain a top 10 ranking thereon for over 30 successive weeks and running! 

For those close to the Marley circus, this success will be no surprise. From the immediate aftermath of his passing right up to date, the struggles and squabbles associated with the right to use Marley's material, image and name have been a boon for many, including the legal profession. And this latest 70th anniversary release is a welcome addition to that legacy.

It is comprised of a 13 track CD and a 7 track DVD. The album opens with the seductive 'Slave Driver' setting the pace, with the well-honed I-Threes (Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt) ably complementing Bob's pleading tones. 'Burnin' and Lootin' then sees the full force of the Wailers' band kick in. Thereafter it's the turn of 'Them Belly Full' and the bouncy 'Heathen' - with lead guitar solos to the fore. Next up comes 'Rebel Music', with a theme that still has resonance around the globe with so many 'sufferahs' crossing borders under severe duress. Likewise, 'I Shot The Sheriff' (with well worked vocals) retains relevance to contemporary society, with so many bizarre and brutal incidents involving black people and the police making the news – notably Bob closes the track instructing his audience to 'read it in the news'. The title track 'Easy Skanking' sits well next to 'No Woman, No Cry', as their contrasting tones ably reflect the multi-dimensional nature of Marley's complex and considered character. And lest the latter track should induce a downbeat mood, it's followed by 'Lively Up Yourself' (with a little ad-libbing from Bob) and a belting version of 'Jammin'. The remaining 3 tracks are a reflection of Marley's all-important political and spiritual disposition – as 'War\No More Trouble', 'Get Up Stand Up' and 'Exodus' (where Marley roars out his religious affiliation) bring this well worked compilation to a close.

For those looking for a full-blooded 'Live at the Lyceum' type video recording of the same concert, the DVD will prove a disappointment. For those happy with any retrospective glimpse of Marley in full flow, it's a welcome addition to the collection – even if it is frequently interspersed with appropriately customised animations. The 7 track visual was recorded in an era when this mode was in its infancy. However, the raw cut close ups of Marley do serve to convey the phenomenal intensity of his delivery – even when singing seemingly simple messages. Little wonder that he had to change his shirt during the show!

Notably, the packaging also includes a 36 page booklet with photos, lyrics and a short interview with the man himself. The latter includes some verbal gems, along the lines of 'music takes me through some celestial clearances' and 'You and yuh friend hold malice for years because of money, de root of all evil'. Too true good brother Bob!

So it's 'hats off' time to the Tuff Gong\Universal Music Group for progressing this initiative so successfully. Only a harsh critic could conclude that they have made a 'silk purse out of a sow's ear' – as Rasta Marley was far from a 'sow's ear'. However, the magnitude of their achievement – ably driven by Marley's enduring legacy – is that a YouTube search of the name Bob Marley yields over 24m. hits in half a second! That is, all of this musical material is already in circulation, whilst perhaps only novices or Marley-addicts will take pleasure in the visual tracks.

Cherishing the fact that life enabled me to catch him in Dublin in 1980 – though dead inside the year – his impact on many millions has been extensive. Only 'time will tell' whether (or how many) more audio and visual recordings of the God of reggae remain in existence. However, if the 1978 recording of the early show in Boston can surface after over 35 years there's hope – and I'm still eagerly awaiting word of the 1980 video recording of his Dublin, Ireland show.

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