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Out Of The Vault: Bob Marley – April 6, 2013

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Nesta Robert "Bob" Marley, OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (1963-1974) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and the best-selling performer of reggae music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.  Marley's music was heavily influenced by the social issues of his homeland, and he is considered to have given voice to the specific political and cultural nexus of Jamaica.  His best-known hits include "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Stir It Up", "Get Up Stand Up", "Jamming", "Redemption Song", "One Love" and, "Three Little Birds", as well as the posthumous releases "Buffalo Soldier" and "Iron Lion Zion". The compilation album Legend (1984), released three years after his death, is reggae's best-selling album, going ten times Platinum which is also known as one Diamond in the U.S., and selling 25 million copies worldwide.

Bob Marley was born in the village of Nine Mile, in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica. A Jamaican passport official would later swap his first and middle names.  He was of mixed race. His father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a White English-Jamaican, whose family came from Sussex, England. Norval claimed to have been a captain in the Royal Marines.  He was a plantation overseer, when he married Cedella Booker, an Afro-Jamaican then 18 years old.  Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them, as he was often away on trips. In 1955, when Bob Marley was 10 years old, his father died of a heart attack at age 70. Marley faced questions about his own racial identity throughout his life. He once reflected:

“I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't deh pon nobody's side. Me don't deh pon the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me deh pon God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.

Although Marley recognised his mixed ancestry, throughout his life and because of his beliefs, he self-identified as a black African, following the ideas of Pan-African leaders. Marley stated that his two biggest influences were the African-centered Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie. A central theme in Bob Marley's message was the repatriation of black people to Zion, which in his view was Ethiopia, or more generally, Africa. In songs such as "Survival", "Babylon System", and "Blackman Redemption", Marley sings about the struggles of blacks and Africans against oppression from the West or "Babylon".  Marley met Neville Livingston (later changed to Bunny Wailer) in Nine Mile because Bob's mother had a daughter with Bunny's father, younger sister to both of them and also had a relationship with him. Marley and Livingston started to play music while he was still at school. Then Marley left Nine Mile when he was 12 with his mother to Trench Town, Kingston. While in Trench Town, he met up with Livingston again and they started to make music with Joe Higgs, a local singer and devout Rastafari. At a jam session with Higgs and Livingston, Marley met Peter McIntosh (later known as Peter Tosh), who had similar musical ambitions. In 1962, Marley recorded his first two singles, "Judge Not" and "One Cup of Coffee", with local music producer Leslie Kong. These songs, released on the Beverley's label under the pseudonym of Bobby Martell, attracted little attention. The songs were later re-released on the box set Songs of Freedom, a posthumous collection of Marley's work.

 

Bob Marley & The Wailers – NO WOMAN, NO CRY (LIVE) - "No Woman, No Cry" is a reggae song by Bob Marley & The Wailers. The song first became known in 1974 through the studio album Natty Dread. The live version from the 1975 album Live! is best known — it was this version which was released on the greatest hits compilation Legend. The original demo version of the song which is unreleased was a Gospel version. This version had only the piano riff as the main instrument and was recorded in London for Island Records in 1973 with Peter Tosh and some unknown female backing singers.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – JAMMING - "Jamming" is a song by the reggae band Bob Marley & the Wailers from their 1977 album Exodus. The song also appears on the compilation album Legend. In Jamaican patois the word jamming refers to a getting together or celebration.

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Bob Marley & The Wailers – THREE LITTLE BIRDS - "Three Little Birds" is a song by Bob Marley & The Wailers. It is from their 1977 album Exodus and was released as a single in 1980. The song reached the Top 20 in the UK, peaking at number 17. It is one of Bob Marley's most popular songs. The song has been covered by numerous other artists.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – IS THIS LOVE - "Is This Love" is a song by Bob Marley & The Wailers, released on his 1978 album Kaya. The song became one of the best-known Marley songs and was part of the Legend compilation.  A live rendition of the song can be found on the Babylon by Bus live album from Paris in 1978.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – REDEPTION SONG - "Redemption Song" is a song by Bob Marley. It is the final track on Bob Marley & the Wailers' ninth album, Uprising, produced by Chris Blackwell and released by Island Records.  The song is considered one of Marley's seminal works, with Rolling Stone having listed it as #66 among The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Some key lyrics derived from a speech given by the Pan-Africanist orator Marcus Garvey.  At the time he wrote the song, circa 1979, Bob Marley had been diagnosed with the cancer in his toe that later was to take his life. According to Rita Marley, "he was already secretly in a lot of pain and dealt with his own mortality, a feature that is clearly apparent in the album, particularly in this song".  Unlike most of Bob Marley's tracks, it is strictly a solo acoustic recording, consisting of Marley singing and playing an acoustic guitar, without accompaniment.  "Redemption Song" was released as a single in the UK and France in October 1980, and included a full band rendering of the song. This version has since been included as a bonus track on the 2001 reissue of Uprising, as well as on the 2001 compilation One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers. Although in live performances the full band was used for the song the solo recorded performance remains the take most familiar to listeners.

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Graham Parker – NO WOMAN, NO CRY (LIVE) - "No Woman, No Cry" is a reggae song by Bob Marley & The Wailers. The song first became known in 1974 through the studio album Natty Dread. The live version from the 1975 album Live! is best known — it was this version which was released on the greatest hits compilation Legend. Taken from the CD “In Their Own Words”, Volume 1, 1994.  Graham Parker is a British rock singer and songwriter, who is best known as the lead singer of the popular British band Graham Parker & the Rumour.

Eric Clapton – I SHOT THE SHERIFF (LIVE) - "I Shot the Sheriff" is a song originally written by Bob Marley, told from the point of view of a narrator who admits to having killed the local sheriff but claims to be falsely accused of having killed the deputy sheriff. It was made a hit by Eric Clapton in 1974.  The narrator also claims to have acted in self-defense when the sheriff tried to shoot her or him. The song was first released in 1973 on The Wailers' album Burnin'. Marley explained his intention as follows: "I want to say 'I shot the police' but the government would have made a fuss so I said 'I shot the sheriff' instead… but it's the same idea: justice." Eric Clapton recorded a cover version that was included on his album, 461 Ocean Boulevard. It is the most successful version of the song, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2003, Clapton's version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream.  Recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon, 125/74.  Taken from the CD Box set “Crossroads”, 1988.

Delbert McClinton – STIR IT UP - "Stir It Up" is a song composed by Bob Marley in 1967, written for his wife Rita, and first made popular by Johnny Nash. Nash's recording hit the top 15 in both Britain and America in 1972.  When Bob Marley returned to Jamaica from the United States in 1967, The Wailers started their own label, ‘Wail'n Soul'm’ records, and released their first independent single "Freedom Time" backed with "Bend Down Low." "Nice Time," "Hypocrites," "Mellow Mood," "Thank You Lord," and "Stir It Up" are all recorded in the same year.  The label folded shortly after and Marley began writing for American singer Johnny Nash. On Nash's I Can See Clearly Now album, he used members of The Wailers and recorded several Marley songs: "Stir It Up," the follow-up single, "Comma Comma," "Guava Jelly," and the Nash/Marley co-written ballad, "You Poured Sugar on Me." "Stir It Up" was Bob Marley's first successful song outside Jamaica.. Marley's first "own" international hit would be "No Woman No Cry," the live version from the Bob Marley and the Wailers Live! album in 1975.  Takne from the Delbert McClinton CD, Never Been Rocked Enough, 1992.  Delbert McClinton is an American blues rock and electric blues singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, and pianist.

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Bob Marley & The Wailers – BUFFALO SOLDIER - "Buffalo Soldier" is a reggae song written by Bob Marley and Noel G. "King Sporty" Williams from Marley's final recording sessions in 1980. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became one of Marley's best-known songs. The title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as "Buffalo Soldiers", that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. Marley likened their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance. The song's bridge, with the lyrics woy! yoy! yoy!, is similar to the chorus of the Banana Splits' "The Tra-La-La Song", the 1968 theme from their TV show, written by Mark Barkan and Ritchie Adams. There has never been any litigation connected to the similarity.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – ONE LOVE/PEOPLE GET READY - "One Love/People Get Ready" is a reggae/rhythm and blues song by Bob Marley & The Wailers from their 1977 album Exodus. It was first recorded in a ska style by Marley's original group, The Wailers in 1965 and was released as a single. This version was later included on their first singles compilation The Wailing Wailers in 1966. The version on Exodus was not released as a single until 1984, after Bob Marley's passing. However, it became one of his biggest hits and has been included on many of their compilation albums.  The song contains an interpolation of The Impressions' song "People Get Ready" written by Curtis Mayfield. The original recording of the song does not credit Mayfield's song and is simply titled "One Love" - this because copyright law was not enforced for Jamaican recordings at this time. When the famous version was recorded for Island in 1977 it was titled "One Love/People Get Ready" and credited Mayfield, as Island wanted to avoid copyright problems -- and it gives co-authorship credits to both Marley and Mayfield. This song was inspired by Marley's friend Roman Selvaggio, a North Caribbean painter.