Top 10 Most-Owned Albums!

For so long, the most popular album on Murfie—in terms of overall number in our ecosystem—has been Dave Matthews Band Crash. Today, a literal new paradigm shift is upon us, as information has unearthed about our new most popular album on the site.

(…and it’s leading the board by ONE copy! ONE!)

To please the list-loving humans that we are, here’s a list of our Top 10 albums on Murfie. Do you have these in your collection? Most are available right now for $1 – $3!

Achtung Baby #1. U2
Achtung Baby

431 copies

Crash#2. Dave Matthews Band
Crash

430 copies

Jagged Little Pill#3. Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill

422 copies

Come Away With ME#4 – Tie! Norah Jones
Come Away With Me

416 copies

The Joshua Tree#4 – Tie! U2
The Joshua Tree

416 copies

Under the Table and Dreaming#5. Dave Matthews Band
Under the Table and Dreaming

384 copies

Unplugged#6. Eric Clapton
Unplugged

368 copies

Supernatural#7. Santana
Supernatural

351 copies

Cracked Rear View#8 – Tie! Hootie & the Blowfish
Cracked Rear View

347 copies

James Taylor Greatest Hits#8 – Tie! James Taylor
Greatest Hits

347 copies

Sufacing#9. Sarah McLachlan
Surfacing

344 copies

Legend#10. Bob Marley & the Wailers
Legend

343 copies

So what does this all mean, though? This list doesn’t closely correspond to the reported top selling albums of all time. Perhaps Murfie members are a group of like-minded folk, or perhaps we’re all around the same age, and have been exposed to the same big hits during our lifetimes. In any case, it’s interesting to make note of the patterns we see in our own music community!

Album Review: “A Miracle” by Groundation

A Miracle Groundation

In the opening lines of “Riddim Hold Dem,” the first track of Groundation‘s 11th studio album A Miracle, frontman Harrison Stafford sings:

“Without woman, what would man be?”

This question marks the beginning of an album centered around exploring and cherishing the role of women in life. Something I always loved about Groundation, a jazzy roots reggae band hailing from Northern California, is their inclusion of female vocalists in their recorded and live productions. Over the years, vocalists Kim Pommell and Sherida Sharpe have emerged as powerful forces in the band, and they play a strong part in this album. “They’re not backup singers by any stretch of the imagination,” said Harrison in a recent interview we had on my radio show. “Groundation is about a balance of sound—everybody really taking part, sharing the spotlight…this is a part of our one-ness.”

Joining forces with Groundation on this album are two mighty, mighty queens of reggae: Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Marcia and Judy, along with Rita Marley, were the I Threes—the original backing trio of Bob Marley & the Wailers in their heyday. Marcia’s gorgeous, etheral voice is considered one of the best in reggae music, and she is featured on track two, “Defender of Beauty.” Judy is featured on track six—the title track—”A Miracle,” sounding enticingly bluesy and soulful, combining perfectly with the jazzy piano and brass which set Groundation apart from other roots reggae bands.

A Miracle is a solid continuation of Groundation’s other recorded works. You can expect the previously-mentioned jazzy keys and saxophone, and the heavy, heavy basslines that make you want to fall to the floor. Their live show is a must-see. It’s good for your soul!

Along with the woman-centric theme, Groundation covers familiar ground with their lyrics—the state of the world, a call for liberation, trust in Jah, and the power of music. Within the woman-centric theme itself lies the curveball—because very rarely, if at all, had Groundation sung about romantic love. But in this case, as you will hear on the last track “Cupid’s Arrow,” it’s far from wishy-washy. It’s about real respect and equality. “Respect me, do the right….oh love me absolutely, and you and I shall prosper.”

Track four, “Gone A Cemetery,” has made the list of my favorite Groundation songs. It’s about a freedom fighter who met a cruel end. I don’t know if it’s about a specific person—if it is, I’m curious to know. Besides the lyrics, the melody is great.

Groundation is an internationally-acclaimed band, and their message is spiritual and universal. I strongly recommend picking up this album, plus more from the Groundation discography, and anything created or produced by Harrison Stafford—someone who works tirelessly to preserve reggae history and spread positive music to the masses.

From the inner liner notes of A Miracle: “This album is livicated to the beautiful female spirit: The powerful empress who manifests creation.”

Big up Groundation!



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.


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.


Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review


Sunday 5/25: In the Marketplace – We refreshed our Staff Picks Cool Collection.

Monday 5:26: Memorial Day! Our staff spent the day relaxin’. :-)

Tuesday 5/27: In the Press – The Isthmus wrote an article and Madison Startups wrote an article about the launch of the Yahara Music Library, an awesome local music streaming project that Murfie is part of.

Wednesday 5/28: On the Blog – Ally gave us our weekly dose of music history for May 28th-June 3rd.

Thursday 5/29: In the Marketplace – A ton of albums were added to our Summerfest Cool Collection, showcasing the greta range of talent coming to Milwaukee this summer.

Friday 5/30: On the Blog – We reviewed  the classic compilation “Legend” by Bob Marley & the Wailers. Share the article or retweet one of our #FreeFriday tweets for a chance to win your own copy! In the Press – Madison Magazine wrote a story covering the Yahara Music Library.


 

#FreeFriday: Legend

Time for our fourth edition of #FreeFriday! Each week we’ll review an album, and give it away to one lucky winner. For a chance to win the album, all you have to do is read this post, then share on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share this blog post on Twitter—use the hashtag #FreeFriday and tag @murfiemusic
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share our #FreeFriday Facebook post (in a public post)

Now, on to this week’s featured album…

Bob Marley & the Wailers - LegendLegend (Bob Marley & the Wailers, 1984)

Legend is an incredible album that can easily be the catalyst for a lifetime love of reggae music. One of the most widely distributed reggae albums in the world, Legend showcases a variety of songs by the foundational roots reggae band Bob Marley & the Wailers.

This “Best Of” collection came about after the band had established themselves as international roots reggae rockers. It was released after the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer from the band (Bob, Peter, and Bunny were the forefront of the group) and after Bob’s untimely death due to cancer. By the time this tracklist was put together, the I-Threes had been added to the band as backup vocalists (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths, each successful solo artists in their own right), and for that reason you get a wide variety of recordings. For this album, the curator chose the band’s later recordings which have a popular appeal to people who generally enjoy rock n’ roll, soul, and R&B. (This can be contrasted to the earlier, more Rocksteady years, when the band worked with the incredibly genius, and slightly mad producer, Lee “Scratch” Perry).

Legend contains everything from uplifting, radiantly positive roots reggae songs like “Is This Love” and “One Love” to the more disco and dance-oriented “Could You Be Loved.” It contains the lighthearted acoustic ballad “Redemption Song” and the heavy, protest-themed “Get Up Stand Up” featuring Peter Tosh’s militant-sounding vocals. This album made me fall in love with the vast, deep diverse ocean of reggae music, and I know you will love it too.

Share this post in one of the ways listed above for a chance to win a copy of Legend, and we’ll let you know if you’re the winner next week! Good luck!


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.


Music for Valentine’s Day ♥

First off—Happy Valentines Day from the Murfie crew! We love y’all!

In honor of this arguably tacky day, we thought we’d share some music that’s perfect for the occasion—whatever your plans are!

Lost Blues and Other Songs
Palace Music

“Will Oldham singing ‘It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m catatonic’ is the perfect accompaniment to lying on the floor staring at the ceiling.”
—Jeff

Lovers Rock
Sade

“The title of the album is ‘Lovers Rock’. Need I say more?”
—Matt

 

Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By
Lovage

“While the title and album art may be more of a joke than anything else, Lovage is a really cool one-off project by Dan the Automator (of Dr. OctagonDeltron 3030Handsome Boy Modelling School), Mike Patton (of Mr. BungleFaith No MoreFantômas), Kid Koala and others. Lovage is an excellent, unique combination of talents stitched together by Mr. Automator, and it’s great fun. Runners Up: Everybody Loves You by Kaki KingLoveless by My Bloody ValentineA Flower is a Lovesome Thing by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.” —John

The Full Monty
Various Artists

“Whether getting ready to go out with friends or staying home with your sweetie, it is impossible to listen to Hot Chocolate‘s ‘You Sexy Thing’ and all the other great 70’s classics on this album without dancing or at least smiling.” —Tiffany

Boys & Girls
The Alabama Shakes

“Not only is this a fantastic rock album, but Boys & Girls covers the full range of emotions associated with love — from the simple, honest, and blissful ‘I Found You’, to the wailing, angst-ridden ‘Heartbreaker’. Top it all off with a track called ‘Be Mine’ and I can’t help but make this my V-Day pick!” —Leah

Take Care
Drake

“Drake knows a thing or two about being extremely emotional.”
—Adam

 

Chances Are
Bob Marley & the Wailers

“‘Mellow Mood’ is one of the best songs for romance. This album is perfect to listen to at home with your date or by yourself!” —Kayla

 

There’s always music to fit the mood. One of these picks might be right for you tonight! Xoxo!