Spawned in 1986, Marley's Ghost -- the name alone conjures up images of Charles Dickens with dreadlocks -- may never become a household name, but the polarizing West Coast quartet has managed to stay on someone's radar long enough to get Van Dyke Parks to produce the band's seventh record. Fans of bluegrass, reggae, gospel, folk, and sea shanties will find at least one song on Spooked to love, and aficionados of all things adventurous -- think Shopping Trolley-meets-Hot Club of Cowtown during the filming of The Last Waltz -- will appreciate the "anything goes" atmosphere. At its heart, Marley's Ghost is as American as the pie of your choice, celebrating history, humor, ancestry, and rugged individualism in the guise of Western swing revivalists, and their take on traditional pieces like "Old Time Religion," "Sail Away, Ladies," and "Wicked Messenger" -- Bob Dylan songs may as well be referred to as traditional -- is both reverent and forward-thinking. Like other maverick traditionalists -- Warren Zevon, Horseflies, Jim White -- Marley's Ghost bring with them an air of gentrified discomfort, but like the snake oil salesman of old, their charm is irrefutable.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger