Sunday, May 19, 2013


Every time I think that's about all the Marley reissues there can possibly be, they find another one.  Best-of's, soundtracks to documentaries, live albums, boxes, dub collections, remixes, the list goes on.  This one, however, at least makes sense, and gives us something new and pretty good, too.  It's the 35th anniversary of the Kaya disc of 1978, not one of his most celebrated albums, but stronger than its reputation.  Kaya was the second album Marley made after retreating to London for a couple of years, after the assassination attempt that left him and his wife Rita wounded.  The first album was Exodus, one of most revered in his canon.  Kaya, by contrast, is often thought of as the soft, almost apologetic disc, purposely made as a step back from his aggressive work.  Marley said he knew he had made music that was too militant for some in Jamaica, and wanted to mellow out.

Is that a bad thing?  Well, not when you look at the quality of his love and happiness.  In a fine mood, he spins easy, soulful reggae, leaning heavily on the I-Threes for back-up la-la-lovin', and smooth horns, as befit a fellow who was inspired in the '60's by U.S. soul.  Songs about spliffs are as controversial as it gets, but by this time, if you knew Marley, you knew about the ganja.  No, life was cool for him now, with Easy Skanking leading things off, and the inspirational Is This Love the big cut.  While he's known for speaking out about his people's suffering, what's made his legacy decades later is his peaceful message, either love for one or for all, Is This Love joining One Love as more powerful statements than the politics of that day.  Such was his keen interest in the peaceful theme that he went back into his deep catalogue of songs, re-recording numbers from his earlier career, old for Jamaica but brand-new for his international audience.  Sun Is Shining and Kaya itself are early 70's tunes  first done with Lee "Scratch" Perry.

The live disc included as the deluxe bonus is a concert from Rotterdam in 1978, during the Kaya tour. It's not heavy on the new album tracks, featuring only Is This Love and Easy Skanking over its 76 minutes.  It's more of a greatest hits, mirroring six cuts off the famous Legend collection.  With a loving crowd locking in to No Woman No Cry, Jamming, and Get Up, Stand Up, this is one of the best of the several Marley concerts available.

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