Bob Marley / Bob Marley & the Wailers

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Bob Marley & the Wailers (The Jad Years)

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This brief collection of pre-Island sides by Bob Marley & the Wailers hardly helps in clarifying their early discography, which has become a veritable mare's nest of licensing deals and one-off reissues, usually with the same set of songs. We are told on the cover of this compilation that it covers the JAD years, which in a way it does, but mostly it doesn't. JAD was the label co-run by Johnny Nash and Danny Sims to which Marley signed a songwriting contract in 1968, leading to a series of demos, but no official releases. Nothing on this disc is from JAD, although technically, since Marley was under contract to them as a songwriter, one could still call the time period covered by this release (1967 to 1971) "the JAD years." What we do have here is one song ("Stir It Up") that was self-produced by the Wailers and released on their own label, Wail'n Soul'm, in 1967, followed by six songs ("Soul Rebel," "Small Axe," "Duppy Conqueror," "Kaya," "Sun Is Shining," "Keep On Moving") recorded with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry between August 1970 and April 1971, and then a final three songs ("Trenchtown Rock," "Lively Up Yourself," "Concrete Jungle") self-produced by the Wailers and released on the second try at their own label, Tuff Gong, in late 1971. While there is some great material here, particularly the tracks with Perry, this disc is simply too brief and too scattershot to be a really useful compilation, especially since there are hundreds just like it out there on the market.

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