Music

MILESTONE - EXODUS

2017 Entertainment Hightlights

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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The Jamaica Observer continues its daily look back at people, events and works that made an impact during 2017.

Exodus, the album that hears Bob Marley and The Wailers at their creative best, turned 40 this year. While it did not get the worldwide recognition as the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Marley's family made sure the landmark did not go unnoticed.

Island Records, which released the album in June 1977 and UMe (owners of the Island catalogue) released four reissue albums to mark the occasion. One of the commemorative discs was a 'restatement' of the original by Ziggy, Marley's eldest son.

In 1999, Exodus was named by TIME Magazine as its 'Album of The Century'.

Marley died from cancer in Miami in May 1981 at age 36.

Exodus was the follow-up to Rastaman Vibration which came out in 1976, also on Island. Largely recorded in England, it was a powerhouse that included the epic title song, Jammin', Waiting In Vain, Natural Mystic, Guiltiness and The Heathen.

Remarkably, Exodus was released six months after a failed assassination on Marley at his home in St Andrew. He was shot on December 3, just two days before his headline performance for the Smile Jamaica Concert at National Heroes Park in central Kingston.

The website, sputnikmusic.com, hails Exodus as one of the reggae king's great moments.

“If you needed another reason why this man is considered one of the greatest artistes of all time, then there's the music. Exodus features a rejuvenated Marley, exuberant and happy to be alive. If Marley was feeling any gloomy thoughts about his near-death, they sure don't show through here, and it sure doesn't seem as if he was trying to confirm his heroic status with pretentiousness. Instead, Exodus features a laid-back, stoned atmosphere that's simultaneously funky and political. In fact, Marley might not even be the star here; that reward goes to the rhythm section of the Wailers. Bassist Aston Barrett plays a liquid-y bass that's never overly technical, but it provides a dark, flat feel to the album. This, with brother Carlton Barrett's superb drumming notwithstanding, leaves plenty of room for Marley and guitarist Junior Marvin to wander freely. The random soloing in So Much Things to Say provides texture to Marley's foreboding political lyrics and impassioned vocal performance. His droning, distorted guitar solo in Heathen is also the closet Exodus ever gets to being frantic. Added production elements, such as the trumpets in the seven-minute centerpiece and musical call-to-arms Exodus, and the ballad-like keyboard work in Turn Your Lights Down Low provides a change of pace from the traditional reggae norm,” the publication observed.

In November, Ziggy Marley staged a concert in Los Angeles to mark Exodus' 40th anniversary.

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