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Africa Unite: The Singles Collection (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

There are countless Bob Marley compilations on the market, but what will generate some interest in this one, which is essentially a collection of his Island singles with a handful of his Lee "Scratch" Perry-era tracks added in, is the inclusion of a "new" Marley song, "Slogans," derived from a demo tape Marley made in a Miami hotel room in 1979. The demo tape was rediscovered in 2003 by Marley's sons Ziggy and Stephen, who then worked to finish the song, calling in Eric Clapton and Marcia Ball, among others, to help with the process. The end result is a solid, if a bit underwhelming, addition to the Marley catalog, but there is no denying "Slogans" is tuneful, wise, and increasingly timely, as politicians continue to mouth slogans as promises, and then routinely manage to not keep them. The other two "new" tracks here are remixes, one by the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am of "Africa Unite" and the other by Ashley Beedle, who grafts Marley and Peter Tosh's "Get Up, Stand Up" to Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" to create the atmospheric "Stand Up Jamrock." Both are interesting attempts to gently update Marley's sound for the 21st century, but one wonders if Marley's body of work even needs to be updated at all, since his political and philosophical positions continue to be eerily relevant, and his musical settings, while hardly up to the minute dancehall, can still easily hold their own in any yard. Aside from the "new" material, Africa Unite: The Singles Collection offers up early Lee "Scratch" Perry gems like the still striking "Soul Rebel" from 1970 as well as strong tracks from Marley's Island period, including the original version of "Get Up, Stand Up" from 1973 and the majestic "Exodus" from 1977. Truthfully, aside from the remixes, which are more intriguing curios than they are new recordings, and the lost song "Slogans," which is a minor but compelling addition to the legacy, most Marley fans will already have everything here. Is it worth buying for one song? Probably not. Is it a good collection? Yes, and nobody will complain if you stick it in the player in the middle of a party, although they'll all think it's Legend.

Biography

Born: 06 February 1945 in St. Ann, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Reggae's most transcendent and iconic figure, Bob Marley was the first Jamaican artist to achieve international superstardom, in the process introducing the music of his native island nation to the far-flung corners of the globe. Marley's music gave voice to the day-to-day struggles of the Jamaican experience, vividly capturing not only the plight of the country's impoverished and oppressed but also the devout spirituality that remains their source of strength. His songs of faith, devotion, and revolution...
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