Bob Marley / Bob Marley & the Wailers

A Legend: 50 Reggae Classics

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A Legend: 50 Reggae Classics (2007) is a budget-minded and otherwise no-frills triple-CD set that packages a hodgepodge of pre-Island Records material from Bob Marley & the Wailers. There is seemingly no regard to chronology or under whose specific auspices the songs were recorded -- i.e. Lee "Scratch" Perry, Bunny Lee, Leslie Kong, or the team of Johnny Nash and Danny Sims. Yet the lack of context certainly doesn't dissipate the importance of the contents -- which represent about a quarter of Marley's known pre-Island sides. Parties who know his mid-to late '70s output will undoubtedly recognize quite a few familiar titles. Worth particular mention are "Kaya," "Lively Up Yourself," "Trench Town Rock," "Soul Rebel," "Don't Rock My Boat," "Stop That Train," "Small Axe," "Duppy Conqueror," and "400 Years." Peter Tosh is a formidable force even on these early renderings of "Can't You See," "Come Soon," "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "You Can't Do That to Me." The Kong-related cuts "Soul Shakedown Party," "Soul Captives" and his "rocksteady" style classics "Cheer Up," "Caution," "Back Out," and "Do It Twice" are welcome in any forum. As are the Lee "Scratch" Perry productions "Fussing & Fighting," "Stand Alone," "Brain Washing," and the remake of Curtis Mayfield's "Keep on Moving." There are several highly recommended box sets for anyone wishing to take a comparatively structured approach to Marley's early catalog. Primarily, Fy-Ah Fy-Ah: The Jad Masters 1967-1970 (2004), Grooving Kingston 12 (Jad Masters 1970-72) (2005), and the final box set in the well-organized trilogy Man to Man (2005).

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