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2023 Albums Thing 226 - Bob Marley & The Wailers “Exodus”

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I first heard this album when…my Dad bought it. Yes you heard that right. My Dad is very sussed when it comes to music and as a musician he has never said what many mates Dad’s said along the lines of “Turn that rubbish off” or other variations on the same theme. He has told us to turn it down cos we were very likely playing stuff too loud but he’s never expressed ridicule for what we listened to (well, apart from once asking why we were listening to the worst rhythm section he’d ever heard while one of us was playing U2). He bought my brother his first copy of “Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols” and told him it was important and that Johnny Rotten was likely our Bob Dylan. My Dad is pretty damned cool.

Thanks to him I got very familiar with this record, I think I played his copy more than he did. This album and it’s follow up “Kaya” were recorded at the same sessions in London during January to April 1977. Marley had come to London to recuperate after an attempt on is life in Jamaica during a particularly charged General Election pitting Prime Minister Michael Manley (who Marley supported) against Edward Seaga. “Exodus” had been thought of as a song and album title for some time and the song was finally written after Marley was taken with one of Manley’s election slogans “We know where we’re going”.

The album is split into two very different sides. Side 1 contains the Roots/Rebel/Rastafari songs headed up my the gorgeous “Natural Mystic”. It fades in slowly, setting up the groove before Marley intones “There’s a natural mystic blowing in the air, If you listen carefully now you will hear”. 

Side 2 contains more pop based songs and 4 of Marley’s best known. The dance reggae of “Jammin’”, “Waiting In Vain” was a top 30 hit in the UK, “Three Little Birds” and Marley’s mashup of his song “One Love” (originally released as a single by The Wailin’ Wailers in 1965) with Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” have become two of his best known songs.

I was always more drawn to side 1 than 2 but you can’t deny the guy knew how to write a hit as well as songs of rebellion and faith, title track “Exodus”, based on a political slogan and the Biblical story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt as an analogy of the hope Rastafarians could be led to freedom, went top 15 in the UK. Follow up album “Kaya” was a much more poppy affair that cemented Marley as a global superstar but  “Exodus” is the one I reach for.

The Heathen - https://youtu.be/dfwu0iZp7OM?si=rm2BvpomF0cXbCOk

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