Review Summary: As Marley said it himself, "The music don't take you away, it's more to listen to." Rastaman Vibration delivers the signature Marley sound, but also seems to have a message hidden within it."It's not music right now, we're dealing with a message. Right now the music not important, we're dealing with a message. Rastaman Vibration is more like a dub kinda album and it's come without tampering y'know. Like 'War' or 'Rat Race', the music don't take you away, it's more to listen to." –Bob Marley, June 1976
was released on April 30, 1976. It become the first and only Marley album to reach the top ten on the Billboard 200 Charts, peaking at number 8.
When you first pop in this CD (maybe for you it's a record or tape), what do you hear" You probably know what you're going to hear before the sound actually reaches your ears. It's the signature Bob Marley sound. The Rastafarian singing, with repetitive lyrics, and the bumbling reggae beats are always associated with the Bob Marley man himself. Rastaman Vibration is no different.
is a very catchy opening track, with the instruments playing the same notes Marley sings behind him. The opening lyrics are the place from which the album gets its title. This track does lag a little near the end, but it's not so long that you reach anywhere near the skip button (or the fast forward button).
The second track is probably the most well-known Marley tune on Rastaman Vibration. Roots, Rock, Reggae
is the only track on this album that you will find on the numerous greatest hits compilations for Marley. And it's popular for good reason. The constant chanting of, "Play us some music! Just some reggae music!" will have anyone singing along. This is the formula for success, and we've seen it in Marley's tunes before.
Now, let's slow the tempo down a bit. Instead of the usual pounding drums you hear in Marley's music, we hear some distorted, distant-sounding snare beats. Johnny Was
is a great song, definitely one of the highlights of this album. The song tells a story about Johnny, a good boy who was shot down and how his mother grieves for him. I would definitely give this track a listen. The next track, Cry to Me
, seems to be trying to achieve about the same feel as Johnny Was. It's a little more fast-paced, but it still tells a sad little story. It's a good thing this track is the shortest on the album, for it is probably the weakest. It's a shame such a good track, Johnny Was, has to be followed by a song like Cry To Me.
Now you get what you want,
Do you want more"
Here we go, more politically charged songs about greed. This was one aspect of Marley's music that made him seem more than just that stoned dude with dreads who sings about love. The chorus makesWant More
great, being so catchy. The little guitar solo at the end with the distorted little scratching is another interesting sound created by Marley.
Speaking of interesting sounds, what's up with that little scream at the beginning of Crazy Baldheads
" It's very surprising, but it doesn't ruin the song at all. This is another song about problems with the government. Little bit of humor as well, as Marley keeps referring to our leaders as Crazy Baldheads. This song has the most interesting verses of the album, giving it a very good quality.
Who the Cap Fit
is a song about not being able to trust anyone. And if the cap fits someone, then it's their fault. After listening to this song multiple times, I still can't decide if this song is good or bad. It is the longest on the album, but it doesn't really seem to drag. The lyrics are very repetitive, but they are catchy and fun to sing along to. I guess you'll have to listen to this song and decide for yourself.
I don't know if Bob Marley ever worked on a fork lift during a night shift, but he sure gives you a good feel for the song with Night Shift.
He sings about being lonely in the empty warehouse and neither the sun nor the moon tampering his work. It's a fun little track, but nothing to brag about.
Just when you think the album is running out of steam, War
revitalizes Rastaman Vibration. This is the gem of the album. The album is derived from a speech given by Haile Selassie I calling for World Peace at a 1963 UN meeting in New York City. This song has to most powerful lyrics on the album, calling for peace, but telling the world that we will fight if we need to. This song has been covered by many artists in many genres, including Sinhead O'Connner, Sepultura, Tribo de Jah, and Ben Harper. No doubt it will be played again in the future.
The final track on Rastaman Vibration, Rat Race
is, yet again, a political track. It is another little-known song that delivers a powerful message. Though the chorus is Marley singing the same lines, the verses contain some of his most clever writing.
When the cat's away,
The mice will play.
Political voilence fill ya city, ye-ah!
Don't involve Rasta in your say say;
Rasta don't work for no C.I.A.
Rastaman Vibration is another strong release by Bob Marley & The Wailers and probably my favorite behind Exodus. It flows together well, contains some powerful tracks, and has very clever lyrics. I just wish it would have had more musical masterpieces. When I say that I mean that, on this album, the music seemed just to be playing in the background while Marley sang his message. I wish the music could have been powerful as well. Luckily, Marley's lyrics are strong enough alone. 4/5 for Rastaman Vibration.