Bob-marley-wailers-crystal-palace

Best of the Best: Bob Marley & the Wailers

Bob Marley & the Wailers, like many other bands, have evolved dramatically throughout their career—and they constantly churned out records, whether it was as The Wailing Wailers, The Wailers, or (most famously) Bob Marley & the Wailers.

Their albums give a snapshot of the changing lineup and production of the band, from the early ska years at Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s studio in 1965, to the band’s oftentimes most revered years working with the genius (and eccentric) producer Lee “Scratch” Perry in the early seventies, to the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, and the addition of Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths, the I Threes, as backing vocalists. Today, the group tours as The Wailers band, with Aston “Family Man” Barrett as bassist and the only remaining member from the band’s earlier years.

Bob Marley & the Wailers have some incredible reggae albums, and a “Top 5″ list is certainly debatable. Let me just say it took me quite a while to narrow these down, and I’m still feeling guilty about leaving some out. And no, Legend is not on this list—and if you think it should be, then get outta here! What do you think about these?


 5. Exodus (1977)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Exodus

Exodus is simply an incredible album from start to finish. Even the first song “Natural Mystic” begins quietly, and grows louder on just a pulsating groove. When full volume is reached, the groove is met with a bongo roll, and Marley starts his prophetic lyrics with “There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air.” The first half of the album focuses on a huge and often-debated Rastafarian idea of leaving Jamaica and returning to the African homeland. Jamaica was in turbulent political times in 1977, and the band recently survived its own turbulence as well—an attempted assassination of Bob, Rita and other members in 1976, and a lineup change before that (Tosh and Wailer departing in 1974 for solo careers, and the I Threes and Wailers backing band arriving in their place). Exodus also brought the world-famous song “One Love/People Get Ready” to the masses, virally spreading a message of universal love and unity to people all over the planet. This album was recorded in both London and Jamaica and was originally released via the popular Island record label, bringing the band much success.

Album highlights: “Natural Mystic,” “Jamming,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” “Three Little Birds,” “Exodus” 

4. Kaya (1978)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Kaya

Interestingly, many songs on Kaya were recorded alongside tracks from Exodus the previous year at Island Studios in London. The main topics on this album are less political and more easygoing—themes of romance, nice weather, and herb or “Kaya” are prevalent. On the easygoing side of things, the song “Easy Skanking” is one of my all-time favorites—it has a nice, relaxed vibe, and it reminds us to “take it eeeeasy.” On the love side of things, the song “Is This Love” simply recognizes the growing feeling of caring for another, and it’s without a doubt one of Marley’s most popular tunes.

Album highlights: “Easy Skanking,” “Is This Love,” “Sun Is Shining,” “Time Will Tell”

3. Live at the Roxy (Recorded: 1976, Released: 2003)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Live at the Roxy

That’s right, I chose a live album as #3—and don’t knock it ’til you’ve heard it! Live music has a magical, raw energy. This album genuinely captures that energy from one of the band’s prime years and keeps it alive for listeners today. Live at the Roxy is guaranteed to give you some shivers when you feel what I just described.

There are so many highlights from this album, both obvious and subtle—and they go way beyond what can happen in a studio. One example of this is how the audience cheers with delight after recognizing the opening notes of “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Road Block).” In the same song, Bob strings together and slurs his plea to the arresting officer in an entertaining and animated way.

Something else I love about this album: The wonderful I Threes and their backing vocals, especially on “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”. Their na na na, na na na na na’s act as a kind of a melodic baseline. And a lot of the songs on this album are extended well beyond their studio counterparts time-wise, letting the listener enjoy the special instrumental grooves, periods of drum and bass, and more. The super-slowed-down, crawling skank on this version of “Burnin’ and Lootin'” is something worth hearing as well. Disc two of this album contains the awesome song “Positive Vibration” and a medley containing the songs “Get Up, Stand Up,” “No More Trouble,” and “War.”

Album highlights: “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Road Block),” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry),” “Introduction + Trenchtown Rock,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Roots Rock Reggae”…basically every track on here. 

2. Soul Rebels (1970)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Soul Rebels

I’m taking it way back to the early years of the band here with Soul Rebels, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, and produced by none other than the highly acclaimed, slightly mad, Lee “Scratch” Perry. This album is more “simple-sounding” to me than the others. It has more of a basic instrumental setup, with less of a dubby sound than the later bass-heavy versions of songs emphasized. The reason I love this album so much is it captures most of the original band in their early form, before signing on to major labels. Bob’s youthful voice fittingly asks listeners to “Try Me” on track two. Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh lend their backing vocals throughout the album, and the trio sound wonderful singing together (Peter Tosh on the lower vocal range and Bunny Wailer on the higher side. Funny note: I used to think Bunny Wailer’s vocals were that of a female until I learned more about the band). Tosh sings main vocals on the songs “No Sympathy” and “400 Years,” showcasing his militant demeanor and knack for pointing out injustices. I also love the song “It’s Alright” a lot, it’s one of my favorites, actually—and when you first hear it, the exciting thing is you don’t know that it’s a reggae song right away. In fact, it could be considered a rockers jam.

Another thing worth noting: I never liked the cover art on this album. It has no connection to the subject matter whatsoever. Apparently, the band felt the same as I, and they weren’t consulted about it before the album was released.

Album highlights: “Try Me”, “It’s Alright”, “No Sympathy,” “400 Years” 

1. Burnin’ (1973)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Burnin'

And here it is, arguably the best Bob Marley & the Wailers album, Burnin’. Why is it #1, you ask? Well first of all, it contains an awesome version of “Duppy Conqueror,” a song that stands out to me for its melody and message.

“Yes me friend, me good friend / Dem set me free again… / The bars could not hold me / Force could not control me / They tried to keep me down / But Jah put I around…”

It’s the kind of song that empowers you to overcome oppression of any kind, whether it’s a prison cell in Kingston or any kind of government institution. Connection to and acknowledgement of a greater positive force will always help you overcome injustice, physically and mentally, whether you believe that force is Jah, the universe, or what-have-you.

More songs of empowerment are “Small Axe” (“If you are the big tree / We are the small axe / Ready to cut you down (well sharp) / To cut you down”) and “Get Up, Stand Up” (…stand up for your right!). With these examples, I mean to say that it’s the feeling of empowerment and hope, and the strength in unity, that makes this album so special, historically valuable, and important for future generations.

Album highlights: “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Small Axe,” “Duppy Conqueror,” “One Foundation”


To cover my @$$, here are my notable album mentions, each of them close to making the Top 5:

  • Uprising (1980): “Coming in from the Cold,” “Redemption Song,” “Work,” “Could You Be Loved”
  • Rastaman Vibration (1976): “Positive Vibration,” “Roots Rock Reggae,” “War”
  • Catch a Fire (1973): “No More Trouble,” “Stop That Train,” “Rock It Baby,” “Stir it Up”
  • The Best of the Wailers (1971): “Soul Shakedown Party,” “Soon Come,” “Cheer Up,” “Back Out,” “Do It Twice”
  • Natty Dread (1974): “No Woman, No Cry,” “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Road Block),” “Talkin’ Blues,” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”

If you agree or disagree with my Top 5 albums, let me know in the comments! And, of course, check out the Bob Marley & the Wailers discography on Murfie.


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


Jeff Buckley

Your Dose of Cool: Jeff Buckley

GraceJeff Buckley was an enigma of an artist. Making his name during the turbulent music scene of the 1990s, his one and only full length album, Grace, is often hailed as one of the greatest records ever created. His music transcended genre—he reigned from a throne gilded in grunge, rock, vocal jazz, and 16th Century English carols. And it worked marvelously.

Grace contains one of Buckley’s best known performances, a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah.” As one would come to expect from Buckley’s repertoire of work, this rendition is haunting, sweet, and nothing short of brilliant. Don’t be alarmed if your eyes begin to water before the piece is finished playing. Live at Sin-E

I recently came across a 1993 release of a live performance, Live at Sin-é. Buckley was beginning to build a fan base, and was still performing in little clubs around New York City with only his guitar and voice as support. This cover of Edith Piaf‘s “Je n’en connais pas la fin” showcases Buckley’s signature sound. His voice is ethereal, his guitar playing hypnotic, and he even sings the choruses in Piaf’s native French. Listen to the gem below and enjoy the coolness.

Check out Murfie’s collection of Jeff Buckley music starting at just $2!


Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.



This Week in Music History (July 31 – August 6)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

AaliyahJuly 31: On this day in 1994, Aaliyah and R. Kelly secretly eloped in Rosemont, IL. Aaliyah just 15 at the time, so the marriage was later annulled.

Brothers in ArmsAugust 1: On this day in 1987, MTV launched MTV Europe. The first video they broadcast was Dire Straits‘ classic “Money For Nothing,” taken from their 1985 record Brothers in Arms.

August Are You Experienced2: On this day in 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first of five nights at New York’s Salvation Club. The setlist included hits like “Foxey Lady” and Purple Haze” from their debut, Are You Experienced?.

The Smile SessionsAugust 3: On this day in 1963, The Beach Boys released “Surfer Girl,” the first single that gave production credit to Brian Wilson. He would remain as the band’s producer until he gave up on the Smile sessions in 1967.

Purple RainAugust 4: On this day in 1984, Prince began his 24 week stint of topping the US album charts with Purple Rain. The album has since gone on to sell over 20 million records worldwide, and is currently the sixth best-selling soundtrack of all time.

NirvanaAugust 5: On this day in 1959, guitarist Pat Smear was born. Smear would grow up to play in the bands Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

Whitney HoustonAugust 6: On this day in 2001, Whitney Houston signed a new deal with Arista that made her, at the time, one of the highest paid musicians in the entire world. The contract was said to be worth more than $100 million.

Find these musical gems in our CD marketplace, and own your own pieces of music history. Each album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.

Grant Green

Your Dose of Cool: Grant Green

Let’s get jazzy, boys and girls. Today I’m showcasing one of my personal favorite bebop guitarists, Grant Green. Relatively unknown during his lifetime, he recorded dozens of albums for Blue Note Records throughout the 1960s and 1970s. If you’re looking for hard bop soul jazz centered around a truly unique guitarist, look no further.Am I Blue

This music has an atmosphere thicker than the planet Venus.

The Best of Grant GreenJust take one listen to Green’s 1963 release, Idle Moments. The title track is a chilled out odyssey of hip, passionate jazz that is served best with a dark liquor and French cuffs. The first few bars are unforgettable, and set the velvety mood that has defined Green’s career. Have a listen for yourself, and enjoy your dose of cool today:

Check out Murfie’s extensive collection of Grant Green albums! As always, you get unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 


Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.


Pink Floyd

Best of the Best: Pink Floyd

Earlier this month, Polly Samson, wife of Pink Floyd singer-guitarist David Gilmour, casually tweeted about the release of a new album in October of this year. It will be the first album to be released under the name Pink Floyd in twenty years, and as expected, classic rock enthusiasts immediately voiced their excitement.

Further details have emerged about the true nature of the mysterious release. Entitled Endless River, the album will re-examine material cut from the 1994 release of The Division Bell. It appears as if David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason will be expanding pieces of instrumental ambient music initially composed by keyboardist Richard Wright, adding vocals and overdubs to breathe new life into the old recordings. Roger Waters, the main creative force behind the band during their greatest height, will have zero involvement with the new record. One cannot help but feel that Endless River is shaping up to be more of a David Gilmour-inspired side project than a genuine Pink Floyd recording.

Personally, my fingers are not crossed for classic Floyd brilliance. I will still anxiously await the October release, and I will certainly be one of the first in line to buy it. In any case, the recent resurgence in Pink Floyd hype inspired me to have a retrospective listen of the band’s discography. Here are my top five albums.

5. Meddle (1971)

Meddle

Meddle is a nifty little album that traverses the sonic spectrum. Unlike later Pink Floyd albums, Meddle features compositions and contributions from every member of the band. The idea of the ‘concept album’ had not yet entered the band’s identity, although the 23-minute “Echoes” that closes out the album can be seen as a grandfather piece to later lengthy epics like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” The rest of the album’s tracks are relatively short and distinct, and apart from the obnoxiously atrocious “Seamus,” there’s a unique and somewhat uncharacteristic lightheartedness to the album.

Album highlight: “Fearless”

 

4. The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd hit it big with this one. A journey through sound and sight, The Dark Side of the Moon is continually marked as a masterpiece in engineering, songwriting, and musicality. With bassist and singer Roger Waters taking the songwriting reigns, the band started themselves down a path of greatness. The decade following The Dark Side of the Moon would launch Pink Floyd into international superstars. There’s not much more to be said about this album. If you haven’t experienced it, buy it now.

Album highlight: Sound engineering on “Us and Them”

 

3. The Final Cut (1983)

The Final Cut

Here’s the album that finally broke the band. Roger Waters had assumed almost total control of the creative process, and was crafting The Final Cut as a sequel to The Wall. Artistic differences, fights within the band, and the clashing of massive egos riddled the recording sessions. Despite Roger Waters leaving the band and effectively dissolving the successful quartet of Pink Floyd, the album represents some of Waters’ best work. Autobiographical and heartfelt, The Final Cut holds up amidst the band’s best.

Album highlight: Lyrics on “The Final Cut”

 

2. Wish You Were Here (1975)

Wish You Were Here

Often regarded as one of the band’s best works, Wish You Were Here clocks in with 5 tracks and contemplates issues of greed and sanity. Some of David Gilmour’s best guitar work is heard in the “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” compositions, and the synthesizer performance on “Welcome to the Machine” has become an icon of the band’s sound and feel. The guitar riff that begins the album’s title track remains one of the most recognizable pieces of music in all of rock music. Overall, the album is one of the band’s most cohesive and energetic releases.

Album highlight: Synthesizer solos on “Welcome to the Machine”

 

1. The Wall (1979)

The Wall

Here we have the greatest of them all. Two hours of music. The perfect concept album. Rock opera at its best. Roger Waters’ jewel in his Pink Floyd crown. After infamously spitting on a fan during a disorderly concert in Montreal, Waters began to fantasize about building a wall between himself and his fans. What followed was an album dealing with themes of loneliness, expression, disillusionment, war, religion, art, politics, love, sex, hate, and drugs. And that’s just the first disc.

Album highlight: All of it. Just listen to all of it.

 

In a discography spanning over a dozen studio albums, these five are arguably the best of the best. If you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments! And, of course, check out the Pink Floyd discography on Murfie.


Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.