Two months is a long time hey? Apparently I am distracted easily: making podcasts is easily second-rated by real life, as well as blogging. But I've missed it, I've missed writing about the music that really moves me: writing about new music is great, and I've made some real discoveries, but what if I need to vent on about something I've dragged up from thirty years ago? Maybe if I aim for one post a week rather than once a day, magazine-stylee. Interesting...
I'm starting up again with Bob Marley. You say that probably enough has been written about Bob Marley, and you'd probably be right. But regardless, Bob Marley seems to be the one ubiquitous artist that retained his excellence in all things. For example, every genre has its icon with their millstone: the glorious, burning soul of 60's Stax have been brutally filtered until When A Man Loves A Woman and Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay are no longer people's introduction to the music but their entire knowledge. Pink Floyd's monstrous canon has been passed over in favour of Another Brick In The Wall. You get the idea.
But Bob Marley... Marley has maybe One Love as the only thing approaching a millstone, and that song even the clammy fingers of Magic FM dare not suck the soul out of. It's a joyous, celebratory song but unlike others on the same level, it's lost none of its original point, none of its optimism and charm. It's become an unofficial national anthem, it's soundtracked countless tourist board adverts and has kept its simplistic beauty.
But today I want to think about a song easily the equal in terms of uplift. From the Burnin' album of 1973, Hallelujah Time slots almost incongruously between the choppy, righteous call-to-arms of Get Up, Stand Up and the biting political comment of I Shot The Sheriff. It's gorgeously mellow, wonderfully positive and has the most beautiful chord progressions of any reggae song I know. Its springtime imagery conjures up not just gambolling lambs and bluebells,
but more importantly children - after all, Children Are The Future. It reminds me that spring in Jamaica is most likely far brighter and sunnier than over here, the dank gloom of March breaking just occasionally over London's hazy atmosphere, something that every now and then becomes really important. While I can happily indulge in Jamaican food to my hearts content over here, it's only for a couple of months in summer that it works best, outside, barbie'd up.
The song stands out for me on record packed with incredible songs: rather than the tightly packed, taut skanking of earlier releases, this sees the Wailers kicking back and allowing the songs room to breathe, and it has its companion piece in the classically laid-back Duppy Conqueror. The album goes to show the breadth of life that's present in this sort of music, and particular that of Mr Marley - from political polemic to social comment to religious moments. So break out some rum, grab some guava jelly, have a listen, unwind and cheer up, and appreciate the lovely, lilting tones of Bob Marley - for a man up there with Che Guevara in terms of student-based ubiquity, there's much to fall in love with.
Bob Marley - Hallelujah Time (Burnin', 1973)