Wednesday, May 05, 2004


why can i statement like that cause so much shit to rain down on me? why is it so fucking heretical?

is it really SO implausible that i can love reggae as much as I do without pledging my allegiance to Bob? really?

it's an over-rehearsed argument, but in brief (and with generalisations aplenty):

I don't much care for Bob's voice. i find it pretty unexpressive and uninspiring.

the later (Island period) stuff i find neutered and often very glib

the earlier stuff is better because it's more raw (Mr Brown, Crazy Baldheads etc in their original form were pretty good) but better than Burning Spear? Yabby You? I really don't see it.

for me it comes down to marketability and ambition and packaging and accessibility and iconography. he did well in reaching out (or being sold to) a variety of markets, but i don't buy the idea that he took reggae to people who didn't like reggae. he took BOB MARLEY to people who don't like reggae (for the most part). find people who've got a copy of Legend and see how many more reggae albums they have.

and - like Nirvana a decade later - Marley's success prompted an undignified scramble for the next Marley. There's some great stuff on Virgin Frontline and Island but for the most part they were trying to recreate not innovate. and when Marley died, most people figured reggae died with him and found it easy to ignore what came next.

i'm not sure where i'm going with this to be honest, but i do really resent the reaction i get when i say that i find him deeply overrated and pretty limited. And it's not some teenage rejection based on his success - as unlikely as it is that Big Youth would have ever crossed over that way, wouldn't it have been great to see his face on flags waved by Eurostoners at festivals?

was he a prophet? was he fuck.... it's not his fault but he's just a posterboy for stoners and hippies. file next to Jim Morrison and James Dean....

posted by dubversion at 8:56 pm

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