Album review: Bob Marley

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Easy Skanking In Boston ‘78 (Island Records)

Bob Marley.

Bob Marley.

ROBERT NESTA Marley would have celebrated his 70th birthday this year had he not been cruelly called back to Zion in 1981 at the tragically early age of 36.

To commemorate this milestone, a number of previously unreleased projects are due to surface this year. The first of these is Easy Skanking In Boston ’78, recorded over two sessions at Boston’s Music Hall on June 8 1978. Hardened Marley fans will be aware of a bootleg copy of this concert that did the rounds some years ago, but the quality was awful with the only attraction for listeners being the rarity of the recording itself.

Now for the first time this concert is officially available and the sound is fantastic. There is an accompanying DVD with the CD which was shot with a handheld camera by a fan who, amazingly, had been granted permission from Bob himself to sit in front of the stage.

As soon as you hear the opening track ‘Slave Driver’ begin, and the warm crowd reaction, you know this is not going to be a pedestrian set of classics. (Although one could argue Marley has nothing else. ) The band are super tight. Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett’s heavy bass ensures everyone is safe and secure in the groove while Bob and the I-Threes deliver the goods.

This is quickly followed up by more “sufferahs” music with ‘Burnin’ & Lootin’ and ‘Them Belly Full’. A particular delight is a performance of the less well known ‘The Heathen’, while the heavy dread of ‘Rebel Music’ sees Junior Marvin injecting some funky wah drenched licks into the solid reggae rhythm laid down by Carlton and Barrett.

The rest of the collection, apart from maybe ‘War/No More Trouble’ takes a lighter tone. This is no bad thing though as the band are so on form in these sessions that even these more popular tracks have a new revamped feel to them.

There is nothing you have not heard elsewhere on this collection but rarely have the band been caught so on form. There is an infectious vibe from the performance coupled with the crowd’s energy that cannot be ignored. My advice is go out and get this lost Bob Marley treasure.

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