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Monday, March 8, 2010

10 Essential Wailers recordings


To say reggae progenitors The Wailers have a deep and influential catalog is like saying The Beatles were a pretty decent little band.
Whether you're discussing the original Wailers lineup with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer, their union with Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Upsetters, or Bob Marley & The Wailers' classic '70s sides, the music is timeless, and influential. Eric Clapton covered it in the '70s. It's inspired everyone from The Police, to Wyclef Jean, to Jack Johnson. To this day, you can't walk into a club or bar without hearing a Marley tune on the jukebox or some solo acoustic guy scrubbing out a version of "Redemption Song."
The music is deep, and it touches everyone.
Don't know where to begin with The Wailers? Follow these 10 suggestions:

Legend - "Legend" is one of the most ubiquitous "best-of" collections ever with good reason. It's a wealth of Bob Marley and The Wailers pure reggae goodness, at their height of their commercial power. Key tracks: "Is This Love," "Waiting in Vain."
Burnin' - Regarded by many as the essential Wailers album, it bridged the gap from their humble beginnings to Marley's international super stardom. Key tracks: "Get Up, Stand Up," "I Shot the Sheriff."
Greatest Hits at Studio One - A great glimpse at the formative days of The Wailers (circa mid-‘60s), when their ska sound was at a cool simmer. Key tracks: "One Love," "Simmer Down."
Natty Dread - The album where Marley stepped to the forefront and changed reggae music forever. Key tracks: "Lively Up Yourself," "No Woman No Cry."
Live - The chronicle of a smoldering 1975 show in London isn’t just a high point in Marley/Wailers history, it's one of the great live recordings of all time. Key tracks: "Trenchtown Rock," "Kinky Reggae."

Grooving Kingston 12: Jad Masters 1970-1972 - This box set collecting Wailers singles from the early '70s has been unfairly obscured by more well known compilations. It's a must for anyone looking to get deep into the band's formative years. Key tracks: "Concrete Jungle," "Guava Jelly."
Rastaman Vibration - Not many hits on this mid-period Marley and The Wailers set, but it's still a highly regarded reggae classic. Key tracks: "Who the Cap Fit," "Johnny Was."
Soul Rebel - The first album credited to Bob Marley & the Wailers, and the band's first full-length collaboration with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, is the sound of musical maturation and a hint of what was to come. Key tracks: "Soul Almighty," "400 Years."
Songs of Freedom - The box set the "broke" Bob Marley and The Wailers again in the early '90s. If you've got the bucks, get this over "Legend." It's too deep to pass up. Key tracks: "Iron Lion Zion," "Screw Face."
Exodus - "Exodus" finds Marley in a most mellow and reflective mood, and the Wailers dabbling in dub with fabulous results. Key tracks: "Jamming," "Wait in Vain."


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