Most new fans of Bob Marley and the Wailers are familiar only with the Wailers' catalog on Island/Tuff Gong, the label that helped thrust the group into the international spotlight. This collection features some of the group's earlier material, made during the rocksteady and ska eras. These tracks date back to the mid-'60s and have a distinct sound and style that's much different from the songs of the '70s and early '80s.
For those eager to learn more about the roots of a group that has had a profound impact on contemporary music, this isn't a bad place to start. The collection doesn't weigh one down with obscure tunes that were never meant to be released (as is common with many like-minded Marley collections). Instead, the compilation demonstrates the evolution of the Wailers by including some of the early ballads and dance tunes, such as "Lonesome Feeling" and "Dancing Shoes," songs that are characteristic of the group's early output. It also includes a few of the early political tunes, such as "Soul Rebel," which are more representative of the sound that made the Wailers global legends. Though there are dozens of similar compilations, this is one of the best.