Bob Marley & the Wailers' late-'60s/early-'70s recordings have been repackaged a million times over, which makes Original Cuts -- yet another repackaging of those pre-Island recordings -- unnecessary upon first glance. Chances are, if you're a big fan you'll already have some if not most of these early recordings in your collection somewhere, whether spread out across a few stray compilations or rounded up in the three-disc, all-encompassing Grooving Kingston 12 collection. Which is precisely why the single-disc Original Cuts is so welcome, especially for casual consumers: it gathers together, plainly and simply, only the best-known of Marley & the Wailers' early work -- songs like "Stir It Up," "Concrete Jungle," "Lively Up Yourself," and "Kaya" that they would later re-record and popularize on their mid-'70s albums for Island/Tuff Gong. Granted, these aren't necessarily the "best of" those early years -- there's practically nothing here from the excellent Soul Rebels album, for instance -- but these are the most well-known songs. For this reason, Original Cuts is especially curious for anyone who is familiar with -- and only with -- the albums Marley & the Wailers cut for Island. These are the original cuts, to quote the album's title, and they're all great songs, albeit rough and primitive at this point in time (especially the ten dubby "versions" compiled here). This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the early work of the Wailers, you should know if you don't already; however, if you don't want to get caught up in a mire of Marley miscellanea, stick with this good-value single disc of familiar favorites. Every song here is a winner, and the disc is chock-full of them. Then, if you like what you hear and don't mind the rough and primitive sound of these early recordings, there's a wealth of other lesser-known, pre-Island recordings awaiting your studious discovery.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier