Bob Marley

Chant Down Babylon

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

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. It doesn't play that way, however, and 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's no time like 1999 to try it again -- is arguably the most extreme reworking to date. Unlike many of these recordings, the original musical base is not completely discarded, but that turns out to be more problematic, since the resulting vocal and instrumental overdubs are awkwardly meshed with the originals. There are a few tracks that work -- such as the Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill contributions -- but overall, this is a misguided and embarrassing effort that winds up undercutting Marley's very virtues.

blue highlight denotes track pick