Review Summary: We got something they could never take away / And it's the fire (fire), it's the fire (fire) / That's burning down everything: / Feel that fire (fire), the fire (fire);
«So much Trouble in the World»
When people think about Reggae, most of them will talk about Bob Marley, simply because he is one of the most influential Reggae artists. His Best-Of entitled Legend is a must have in any discography with hits such as No Women No Cry and Three Little Birds. In his whole career (after the separation from The Wailing Wailers) he released six studio albums in seven years (1973-1980). His music talks about the inequalities in the World, his love for Ganja and his Rastafarian philosophy. Although most of today's reggae artists sing about Ganja and Rastafarï, Marley is mostly known for his militant songs, which you can find in Survival his fifth album released in 1979.
As soon as you pick up this album, you'll notice that the cover is a patchwork of African flags, which sets the theme of this album: Fight For Freedom. The opener So Much Trouble In The World makes this message universal and not just about Africa as Marley tells us that there is "So much trouble in the World". The general atmosphere of the album goes from almost depressing to a cry for justice and ends up on hope. This is like realizing you have lots of troubles, standing up for yourself and hoping for a better World. Actually, this is probably what Marley wanted to achieve. So Much Trouble In The World and Top Ranking work as a list of what's wrong in our World but this changes as soon as you hit Babylon System's chorus: “And we've been taken for granted much too long/Rebel, rebel now! “. The album ends on hope with songs such as Wake Up And Live and Ride Natty Ride. One notable song is Zimbabwe which is truly a song of rebellion against oppressive government and the perfect example of Marley's powerful songwriting with lyrics such as:
“ Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,
And in this judgement there is no partiality.
So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little struggle,
'Cause that's the only way we can overcome our little trouble.
Brother, you're right, you're right,
You're right, you're right, you're so right!
We gon' fight (we gon' fight), we'll have to fight (we gon' fight),
We gonna fight (we gon' fight), fight for our rights!
Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe);
Set it up in (Zimbabwe);
Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah. “
Musically, most people will find Reggae boring and easy to play. There is actually a big difference in each instrument's job from other music genre. The guitar works as the rhythm section, backed by drums and percussion both played on different times ("One Drop" rhythm). The Bass is one of the most important instrument of the genre, acting like the backbone of the song. Brass instruments are there to emphasize the rhythm and add dynamics to the songs. Needless to say that on this album all of the instruments play their job perfectly. Most of the songs are on mid-slow “one drop” rhythm except for Babylon System who's mostly played on acoustic instruments. A notable mention is Aston "Family Man" Barrett for his outstanding Bass melodies.
Although this album isn't very popular, this is one of Marley's finest work with powerful songs such as Africa Unite, Zimbabwe and So Much Trouble. It is very hard to find a filler, although I will to say that Babylon System slows the rhythm of the album probably a little too much, but not enough to bring the rating down. This is one of the most interesting album if you put in his time and place but even if you don't, the lyrics still applies in today's society. This is why Marley is iconic, his lyrics live on after his death.