Bob Marley

Chant Down Babylon

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Sometime during the '90s, overdubbing classic recordings with new instruments and vocals became an accepted practice, since the intent was to introduce legendary artists to a contemporary audience. Evidently, these good intentions made these albums better than, say, overdubbing strings on Hank Williams' spare recordings after his death, since that was just crass commercial pandering and this was noble missionary work. Chant Down Babylon -- an attempt to refashion Bob Marley recordings as urban and hip-hop (and, in the case of "Roots, Rock, Reggae" with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, rock) for a new generation, based on the presumption that, since Marley never reached the broad African-American audience he desired during his lifetime, there was no time like 1999 to try it again -- is arguably the most extreme reworking to date. Unlike many of these sort of recordings, the original musical base is not completely discarded, as the resulting vocal and instrumental overdubs are meshed with the originals. There are a few tracks, such as the Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill contributions, that work particularly well.

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