Legend – The Best of Bob Marley and The Wailers

Released May 1984, this best-of compilation is the best selling reggae album of all time with 15 million units sold in the US alone and 28 million total worldwide. It currently sells between 3,000 and 5,000 albums each week. It’s #46 on Rolling Stones “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

Jason: Are we jamming?

Brad: Yes, we are.

Jason: You would never know it’s 80°F outside right now because it’s about 60°F in my office.

Brad: It is so nice outside. Also, chilly in my office.

Jason: Fortunately, this album puts me in a tropical mood so I can pretend that I don’t need to wear a sweatshirt in the office at the end of summer.

Brad: Yeah, this album makes me think of Summer no matter when I hear it.

Jason: I have never sat down and listened to a Bob Marley album, nor have I ever requested one of his songs or played them on a jukebox. However, I knew most of the songs on this Best Of. Probably because I have heard most when I was at the beach on vacation in the past.

Brad: Same here. I really like this album and always have but I don’t own it and  I’ve never intentionally listened to it. It is one of those albums that is always playing somewhere. I know most of these songs really well. Although, there is one song on this album that I’ve never heard before. Can you guess which one?

Jason: Punky Reggae Party? (Which is not the title of a very special Punky Brewster episode).

Brad: No. I knew that one. The one I’ve never heard is “Easy Skanking”.

Jason: Oh yeah. What does he mean by skanking? Does he mean like being a slut?

Brad: I think he’s talking about getting high but I’m not sure.

Jason: Well, he’s always talking about getting high. Actually, I looked it up, It’s a type of reggae or ska dance. Like dirty dancing.

Brad: Makes sense.

Jason: When I listened to this, I mean actually listened, I didn’t realize how many were protest songs.

Brad: He makes protest songs sound so happy and relaxed. But yeah, lots of protest songs. I fully support getting the message out however you can. “Redemption Song” gives me chills every time I hear it. 

Jason: The fact that most of his songs still get played all the time shows how much of an impact he had. Also, most are used in context of the message he intended. Not like when Norwegian Cruise Lines (or wh used “Lust for Life” in their commercials of white people surfing on a wave pool.

Brad: True. It is pretty amazing how continually popular this album has been since it was released in the 80s. His life story is fascinating and tragic. I wonder why it hasn’t been made into a big movie like Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman?

Jason: I am surprised it hasn’t as well. He was only 36 when he died of cancer and his last concert was in Pittsburgh in 1980. By then he already had made a dozen studio albums. Since his death there have been multiple live albums, compilations, remix albums, and box sets released.  

Brad: Yeah, and in 1976 he, his wife and his manager all survived an assassination attempt. All three were shot. 

Jason: Jeez. Also, he released 150 singles between 1962 and 1973 and not a single one even charted in any of the main countries where they track that. Isn’t that crazy?

Brad: I think because he moved to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records in 1973 and Island knew how to promote reggae music world wide.

Jason: Well, it worked. Now we can’t escape it. If you are at a bar within 100 feet of an ocean or great lake then you will hear a Bob Marley and the Wailers song.  What’s your favorite song on this album?

Brad: In addition to “Redemption Song”, I absolutely love “Three Little Birds”. It is such a happy positive song. It just instantly makes me happy.

Jason: I like “Three Little Birds” as well. I also really like the bass line in “Could You Be Loved” and overall I like “One Love/People Get Ready” even though it is the most ubiquitous of his songs.

Brad: I love those too. “One Love/People Get Ready” is the one time you might possibly hear me sing “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right”.

Jason: Ha. I’d still give you side-eyes but I would understand it. What grade do you give this album?

Brad: I have to give it an A. Bob Marley had such a positive impact on music in his relatively short career. It is really impressive. 

Jason: I am going with a B+ because it’s totally listentoable (is that a word? Listen-to-able?) and I like the message and I am fine with hearing it when I am under a palm tree with a beer but I don’t need to hear it any other time, although I am not mad about it when I do.

Brad: Fair.

Jason: So maybe since it’s pushing 90 degrees out we should grab a beer, head to the roof, and play a Bob Marley song to close out the summer.

Brad: That would Satisfy My Soul.

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.

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  1. Pingback: 100 Albums Bucket List | Jason S Steele

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