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Bob Marley And The Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston 78

  by Jon Rogers

published: 12 / 4 / 2015

Bob Marley And The Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston 78
Label: Parlophone
Format: CD


Occasionally ragged but overall strong live album from Bob Marley and the Wailers, which, previously only available on bootleg, was recorded at two 1978 Boston concerts

Island kick off a year-long celebration of what would have been Bob Marley's 70th birthday with this sort-after recording from his family's archive. Long available on bootlegs the recording, taken from two shows at Boston's Music Hall on 8 June 1978, sees the band on something of a high. The album 'Exodus', widely seen as marking Marley at his creative best, was highly praised amongst fans and critics (staying in the UK charts for 56 weeks) and off the back of that success the band had embarked on a rather lengthy - and successful - world tour. The highlight, rather ironically, had come during a break in that tour when Marley and the band had returned to Jamaica to take part in the ‘One Love Peace Concert’ that took place in Kingston on 22 April. The country at the time was in dire straits at the time, politically, socially and economically and not that far off from descending into civil war after the Green Bay Massacre. The concert, with Marley as the star of the show, managed to pull the event off, even managing to famously get the country's rival politicians Edward Seaga and Michael Manley up on stage, even if both did look ill at ease. Despite Marley and the band riding on something of a crest of a wave there were some rather dark clouds starting to gather. Marley had become convinced of his own impending death which had begun to weigh heavily on him. He told his friends Dion Wilson and Ibis Pitts whilst in Delaware: "Me gwan die at thirty-six. Jus' like Christ." At the time his friends put his rather morose talk down to a fit of temporary depression over his football injury the previous year that had ripped the toenail off his right foot in a bad tackle. The Wailers themselves, in this reincarnation, despite the formidable bassist Aston 'Family Man' Barrett as band leader, were never quite, as least in this critic's opinion, up to the mark. Certainly not compared to the line-up featuring Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The weak link was guitarist Junior Marvin, who was building a reputation as the ‘British Hendrix’ who blasted out rockist, psychedelic licks which seemed rather at odds with the more rhythmic styling of reggae. Even if it did provide a sharp contrast to Barratt's bass phrasing. The Boston gig does see the band in a playful, light mood but still a tight, well-oiled unit, skipping through the likes of crowd favourites such as 'I Shot the Sheriff', 'Easy Skanking' and 'Get Up Stand Up'. Even Barrett seems, relatively, restrained in his showmanship. The highlights come with 'Jammin'', clocking in at nearly ten minutes, which bobs and weaves about ducking and diving all over the place as Marley cooks up a party feel as everyone gets a chance to shine. Finale 'Exodus' proves to be a strong note to end on. While Marley is obviously the star of the show the rigours of undertaking a world tour has taken something of a toll on his voice and at times it shows the strain. At times on 'No Woman No Cry' it does not quite come up to scratch, showing signs of wear and tear. The album, overall, is perhaps best described as being a runner-up to the rather formidable 'Live!' album released way back in 1975 - although to be fair few live albums come up to scratch against that colossus - and is certainly better than the rather lame 'Babylon by Bus'.

Track Listing:-
1 Slave Driver
2 Burnin' & Lootin
3 Them Belly Full
4 The Heathen
5 Rebel Music
6 I Shot the Sheriff
7 Easy Skanking
8 No Woman, No Cry
9 Lively Up Yourself
10 Jamming
11 War / No More Trouble
12 Get Up, Stand Up
13 Exodus

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