Bob Marley / Bob Marley & the Wailers

Roots, Rock, Remixed

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There have been so many really atrocious (or, at best, really tedious) Bob Marley remix projects that it comes as a deep surprise to encounter one that truly hits the spot. Interestingly, this one succeeds because the remix artists featured -- an all-star cast featuring such notables as the Fort Knox Five, Cordovan, Bombay Dub Orchestra and DJ Spooky -- approach the source material with love and respect, rather than using it as a jumping-off point from which to showcase their own mad skills. Each of them puts a unique fingerprint on one of Marley's songs, but each also manages to keep the focus on the song itself rather than on the treatment. Thus, we get a brilliantly skittery and funky mix of "Small Axe" from Paul & Price and a rich but restrained reading of "Soul Shakedown Party" by Afrodisiac Sound System, and DJ Spooky even manages to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is "Rainbow Country," one of Marley's least compelling compositions. Not everything is brilliant: Afrodisiac Sound System drops the ball just a bit on their ho-hum version of "Soul Rebel," and Trio El├ętrico's mix of "Trenchtown Rock" saps more energy than it adds to the original. But for the most part, this album is like a seminar in how to bring new life to already top-notch material. Highly recommended overall.

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