photo & text by nacrowe
i feel like i can still smell that dank aroma of weed coming from countless neighboring dormitory rooms in both college and high school (i went to a boarding school) with EXODUS (ISLAND, 1977) by the BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS blaring from somewhere in the mix. on that account alone i should probably detest this record but it is a testament to its songwriting and production that i cant help but be intoxicated by its charms as this is arguably the DEFINITIVE album that cemented the REPUTATION and LEGACY of MARLEY as a FIRST-RATE musician and EMERGING GLOBAL ICON.
EXODUS was recorded in the UNITED KINGDOM in the year following the assassination attempt on MARLEY's life in JAMAICA, so its themes are very much centered around personal as well as RELIGIOUS and POLITICAL LIBERATION. in the RASTAFARIAN religion there is much consternation focused on JAMAICA's past as a former colonial possession of the great modern day BABYLON in ENGLAND. as a the mixed son of a BRITISH plantation overseer, who later gained worldwide acclaim and attention in BRITAIN, MARLEY is very much the physical embodiment of this cultural tension between the two island nations. so when you listen to a song like "EXODUS," it works on a multitude of levels, not least of which is a commentary on the previous year's national elections in JAMAICA. "JAMMING" in spite of its being entirely coopted as mindless background music by AMERICAN retail and local beach supply shops and restaurants worldwide, the song is very much about the PERSONAL LIBERATION found in community and living a RIGHTEOUS LIFESTYLE. the idea that your ability to psychically separate yourself from your oppressor is not only a POLITICAL and CULTURAL DISSOCIATION but also a MENTAL one as well. on a deeper level it is a vital necessity that one must LIBERATE their mind from the worldview of those that persecute them, which is much more INSIDIOUS and DIFFICULT to achieve. "JAMMING" seems to be very much about that establishment of a new culture and sense of SOCIAL COHESION and STABILITY around an EMERGING COMMUNITY. more explicitly this same sentiment is seen on the "ONE LOVE / PEOPLE GET READY" medley, although despite its UBIQUITY in recent decades, i consider it one of the weaker tracks on the album.
my favorite track bar none from EXODUS is "WAITING IN VAIN," which is reportedly about his extra-marital affair with CANADIAN-JAMAICAN model and former miss world CINDY BREAKSPEARE, whom he fathered DAMIAN MARLEY with before passing at age 36 from cancer. the song is very much about the BITTERSWEET and TORMENTED feeling of romantic limbo when LOVE is hinted at but not explicitly reciprocated. with its LILTING melody and GENTLE upbeat momentum it is very difficult to listen to that song on a sonic level and not be swept up with that UPLIFTING yet paradoxically FOREBODING emotion, even before hearing any lyrics. in my opinion it is quite the achievement and really showcases MARLEY's power as a songwriter as it is the perfect encapsulation of the potential for LIBERATION through interpersonal CONNECTION, LOVE and one's SEXUALITY.
if you are unfamiliar with MARLEY, EXODUS is no doubt a very good place to start. like much of his post-LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY catalogue, MARLEY at his peak created a HYBRID sound that kept the VIBE and POLITICS of his earlier ROOTS REGGAE material while also incorporating the clean production and TRADITIONAL song structures that made his music accessible to the sensibilities of a BRITISH and later AMERICAN and WORLDWIDE public. the GRACE he walked that line with is arguably why he is still such an ICON in world culture on the ELEVATED plane of ELVIS PRESLEY, JOHN LENNON or MICHAEL JACKSON. required listening in my opinion.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.