time Magazine called it the best album of the 20th century. Pulsating on political issues and sweet reggae rhythms, Bob Marleys Exodus resonates with the kind of passion any artist worth their weight in gold records can only dream of. For the Jamaican musician, the journey was riddled with struggle, chaos and oppression. Marley and the Wailers came from Trenchtown with nothing but a desire to make music and a spirit of moving mountains. After a series of near misses and personnel changes, the original core members split up. Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left after the Iceland debut, Catch a fire. But Marley’s vision remained intact and the Wailers carried on. From then on it was about Marley’s brand of reggae music looking for airplay in formats that couldn’t quite capture their tropical and lighthearted ambience. That and a belief that took precedence over any move by Bob Marley.
You can only immerse yourself that far in Marley’s Rastafari Movement by Jah People Creed before they see the simplicity of the message. Reggae in its most haunting form usually only dictates the virtues of peace, love and piety. Unfortunately, during the social upheaval in the mid-1970s, the news did not get through to everyone. Opposition factions were stirred up by Marley’s political affiliations. Shortly after an assassination attempt that injured the singer, his wife Rita and manager Don Taylor, Marley fled Jamaica. He eventually ended up in England, where he gathered the rest of the Wailers and the I Threes, the trio of backup singers that Rita was a part of, to record Exodus. While some songs from previous sessions in Jamaica were reportedly in the can, most of the album was recorded in London – where Marley has already been immortalized by the likes of Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and the police.
With a combination of ska and rock steady rhythms and elements of African / Jamaican folk traditions, Marley crosses the soothing melodies of “Natural Mystic”, announces his arrival and assures his followers: “If you listen carefully now you will hear …” Guiltiness ”and“ The Heathen ”he confirms his convictions. The real boost comes through in the title song, of course, a rousing groove that managed to hit the R&B charts in the USA – a clear resolution to step up and make “Move!”. Once the revolution is over, it’s time to dodge the bullets during the happy celebration of “Jamming”. When “One Love / People Get Ready” ends the album, Marley’s call for love and unity seems almost mandatory. Fortunately, there’s a lot more of where that came from with subsequent re-editions Exodus, Including a 2017 40th Anniversary Box Set, which includes a crisp remastering of the original album, tons of extras with alternate tracks, additional singles and a selection of live material, which was released on June 1-3, 1977 at the Rainbow Theater in London was recorded during the Exodus European Tour.
~ Shawn Perry