Sunday, 16 July 2017

Forty Years On... Bob Marley & The Wailers - Exodus

There were a number of factors that attracted me to reggae back in the 1970s. I think, like punk, it was something different and to some extent anti-establishment, particularly with its connections with drug culture. Then there was John Peel, who played quite a bit of reggae - and sometimes some of the dub that was a little harder to grasp. At its more accessible end, this was fun music, too, which was another factor in its favour.


Marley, and his fellow band mates from The Wailers, had brought their version of Jamaican roots music to the UK earlier in the 1970s, and had had some critical success (if not commercial) with Catch a Fire and Burnin', getting a slot on The Old Grey Whistle Test - their first UK TV appearance. But it was Exodus which brought them the commercial success, and the album produced 5 singles which all made the Top 30 in the UK, between 1977 and 1980.

One thing is clear when listening to this album, and that it that it is a spiritual piece of work. Rooted in Marley's embracing of the Rastafarian faith, it draws on Old & New Testament images and ideas, linking them to the struggle of the Afro-Caribbean people. Songs such as 'Natural Mystic', 'Guiltiness', 'The Heathen' and 'Exodus' all blatantly fly the rasta flag - the album is subtitled (on the back cover at least) Movement of Jah People - but other songs too have a strong spiritual element too. As a Christian minister I find many resonances with Marley's lyrics and the Bible, particularly, but not exclusively, the Old Testament. This is an album that continues to thrill me, entertain me and challenge me. A true classic!