Quirky Marley TributePutumayo Music recently took a step away from its customary formula of regional and stylistic compilation albums to give us a tribute to the music of one man, the great reggae progenitor Bob Marley. Few people have made the kind of lasting, universal impact that Bob Marley has made with his music. In his short 36 years, Marley managed not only to introduce hundreds of millions to reggae but also spread powerful messages of peace, love, human rights and acceptance. It’s no surprise that almost 30 years after his death, one can travel to any part of the globe and witness his far-reaching musical legacy. A number of the twelve tracks were recorded specifically for this disc. But it opens strongly with something that already existed: Three Plus’s convincing “Jahwaiian” fusion version of “Is This Love.” And it remains in Hawaii for singer Robi Kahakalau’s cool, smooth take on the seldom heard “Do It Twice.”
The California band Rebelution delivers “Natural Mystic” with an authentic beat and an evocative, echo sound but, sadly, accompanied by seemingly uninspired vocals. And thin-voiced French-Canadian singer Caracol disappoints on “Could You Be Loved”—maybe it’s a style I just don’t get, but she sounds to me like a half-baked Nelly Furtado. More surprisingly, Céu also comes off strangely listless in “Concrete Jungle.” I guess you’ve either got Rasta in your blood or you don’t; it’s something that is often mimicked but not easily replicated. The Canadian band Northern Lights, on the other hand, perform a completely non-reggae version of “Waiting in Vain”, transforming it into a refreshing, acoustic folk track that listeners would have no idea was written by Marley if it was presented by itself.
|Freshlyground before their World Cupperformance|
The CD closes with two solid tracks. “No Woman No Cry,” from the collective called Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, a group of refugees displaced to Guinea during the Sierra Leone civil war. The group genuinely displays the heart of Marley’s “we’re all one” message. And the one-time ensemble Playing for Change is a truly international collective that unites stars like Keb’ Mo’ and Manu Chao with street musicians from all over the world. Their “One Love” makes for a beautiful good-night, a “We Are the World” without the showboating and hype. Good feelings all around. That’s the spirit of this uneven but overall quite worthwhile disc.
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