Classic Recordings: Bob Marley – Exodus

Bob Marley - Exodus, album cover

Bob Marley – Exodus

Island 50 (Vinyl)

By Paul Rigby

Marley had a tremendous decade packing in 10 or so brilliant artistic pieces of work throughout the 70s that not only introduced the world to the music of the West Indies but also revealed the trouble and strife that had beset his people. He reflected their subjugation but was also eager to convey their innate spirituality while also proclaiming the Rastafarian movement and ideology.

While the music on Exodus wasn’t necessarily dramatically better than much of his contemporary work it was his most successful album. It was, ironically, made, not in his home country but in England, London in fact. That irony was doubled because Exodus reflected his own state of life. Not long before this album was made, while at home in Jamaica, doing something as banal as peeling a grapefruit, an attempt on his life was made by a gunman. This event changed everything. With the subsequent creation of Exodus, Marley plugged into the zeitgeist. It was the man and his art in a moment in time.

Hits like ‘Jamming’, ‘Waiting in Vain’ and ‘One Love/People Get Ready’ showed a slightly mellowed Marley who still had politics on his mind but did so in a slightly more considered manner. It also packed in some terrific reggae.

The album turned him into a global phenomena – it also transformed him from a musician to a prophet, “My feeling about this music is that it will get bigger and bigger and it will find the right people as it gets bigger. There is no end to this music. It is one of the vehicles that will help to free the people from their chains and bondage of repression,” he said at the time.

The album was released on Island Records, run by Chris Blackwell. Five years earlier Blackwell was warned that Marley, part of the Wailers at that time, with Bunny Wailer and Pete Tosh, were trouble, “They had a bad reputation, “ said Blackwell. “They were ready to work but they wanted to do it on their own terms.”
But he took a risk and a legend was born. Exodus was its realisation.

Stand-out track: Jamming

This one track will challenge your speaker’s upper midrange abilities as the wrong system synergy can produce a bright presentation while superior instrumental separation is required to fully track the subtle percussive effects.

Exodus – A Recorded History

1977 LP Island ILPS 9498
1990 CS Tuff Gong 422-846208-4
1995 CD Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 628
2001 CD Island UICY-3220
2004 LP Divine Recordings 306
2007 LP Universal Distribution 9047
2009 LP Tuff Gong 5318419
2009 LP Island 50 AISL31841

1 Comment

  • Bill Barner says:

    Hey, I have this Island LP! So, we’re all going to listen to it at 5 PM on Sunday, right? And I think that would be at 1 PM here in Falls Church, Virginia, USA. Well, I’ve jumped the gun and fired up the old NAD turntable on Friday morning and am listening to this music for the first time in decades. I gotta say that on “Natural Mystic” Bob Marley’s voice is not loud enough and lacks presence. It’s surprising how variable the sound is from song to song. I wonder if this partly a function of the condition of my 30-year-old record. Anyway, there are some good songs here. But, I always thought “Live!” was a better record.

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