Bob Marley and the Wailers – Uprising – Round 46 – Graham’s Choice

Tom’s choice of theme inspireddownload (1) me to take the plunge and purchase this album shortly after our last meeting. Up until recently, ‘Legend’ ticked the box as my sole source of Marley and reggae in general. A comfortable but lazy position to take and one listen to this, put it straight to the top of the pile of existing records I had thought about bringing along.

I found it instantly irresistible and have probably have been over-playing it since it was first unwrapped. I’ve never been attracted by the cover art on this album but now I’m passed that I can just get on with a wonderful groove that starts right from the opening track, ‘Coming in from the cold’.

My non-existent knowledge of reggae means I’m unlikely to contrast and compare very much on this one. But as his final studio release prior to his death in 1981, reportedly this was his most religious/spiritual offering combined with a band knowing exactly what they were doing.

Whether it just because I’ve got access to better audio equipment these days, but the detail on this album (of course best heard on cd) , of single instruments and percussion  is stunning and I find myself anticipating single piano notes etc. throughout the album.

The best known tracks are left towards the end of the album and fellow owners of Legend will know them well. The upbeat dance feel of ‘Could you be Loved’, softens you up for the spiritual body blow that follows with the beauty of ‘Redemption Song’.

Not the album I had originally anticipated bringing, but seeing as Rob brought along two that I had originally considered, just as well.

Rob listened: It’s hard not to enjoy ‘Uprising’. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could take against it at all. I have no great insight to offer. I’m resisting the urge to start farting on about how sunshiney this album is. I guess it’s potentially interesting to consider the dissonance between the way Marley presumably intended his music to be received, socially conscious, even revolutionary, and the common perception of these songs as the soundtrack to life on some idyllic (imaginary) Caribbean paradise. But i’m not that interesting.

I admire reggae immensely for it’s apparent reliance on extreme repetition. I hope one day to have listened to enough to be able to discern countless sub-genres, influences and radical expressive forms within it, but for now i’ll settle for it all sounding a bit samey and a bit good to my stupid ears.

Tom listened: Like Graham, my journey into the music of Bob Marley was ostensibly through Legend (although I do recall being appalled at the age of 10 that his ‘cover’ of  No Woman, No Cry was so rubbish in comparison to the definitive version by….you guessed it…Boney M of course).

Subsequently I have explored some of Marley’s back catalogue and I like all the albums I own, possibly preferring Rastaman Vibration (to Natty Dread and Burnin) due to the lack of Legends tracks on it, giving it a feel of a level playing field rather than having a couple of tracks that I know inside out already.

I have never been tempted by Uprising – I usually work on the assumption that an artist that has been around for a while is usually a spent force by the time they record their last album. There are some obvious exceptions to this rule but in Marley’s case the critics have tended to favour the run from Catch a Fire through to Exodus and I have been happy to be guided by their judgement. However, Uprising sounded pretty fine to me and, as far as I could tell, there was no particular drop in quality between it and Marley’s earlier records. Obviously, the two Legend tracks are amazing but there were plenty of others on this album that made just enough impact during the single listen to make me think that, given enough time, Uprising could easily hold its own amongst Marley’s more recognised classics.

Nick listened: Me being me, I never bought Legend and instead went and bought a handful of Markey’s studio albums while I was at university instead. One of them was this, and it’s great. Brilliant choice, and not one I would have considered as a ‘swan song’; I kind of know it’s last in Bob’s discography, but just don’t think of it that way.

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