Upsetting
Monday, June 23, 2003
 
During his all-too brief life, Bob Marley established himself as one of the giants of modern music; he stands on par with the likes of Miles Davis and Bob Dylan, performers who took established musical forms and revolutionized them, who continually evolved their vision throughout their careers. From his first single, the bouncy "Judge Not," through a loose, live rendition of the haunting "Redemption Song" performed at his last stage appearance, SONGS OF FREEDOM documents Bob Marley's musical legacy better than any previous compilation, and probably, better than any likely to come.

Marley was at his peak at the time of his death in 1981, meaning there is no filler or weak material here, only four solid discs of great songs. His philosophical evolution is easily seen: listen to a rude-boy anthem, like the early hit "Simmer Down," next to a later exploration of Rastafarianism, such as "Crazy Baldheads," and eventual statements of pan-Africanism in songs like "Zimbabwe" and "Africa Unite." Musically, Marley's music expanded just as far. He utilizes Stylistics-like harmonies on "High Tide Or Low Tide," incorporates early-80's R&B into the sound of "Could You Be Loved," and even throws a basic blues shuffle into the alternate mix of "Three Little Birds."
 
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