Bob Marley & The Wailers

Tuff Gong / Island Records, 1980


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As a musician who helped to popularize reggae in America (at least for a short time), Bob Marley couldn't help but be influenced by rock and roll. After all, he and the Wailers had influenced so many artists in rock that there had to be some lessons that he took from them.

Those lessons manifest themselves the strongest in his 1980 release Uprising - which, unfortunately, would be Marley's last album prior to his death in 1981. While it's not his strongest album of his career, it does contain two of the best songs that Marley ever recorded.

Marley and the Wailers hit paydirt on the song "Could You Be Loved," a song that is highlighted for me by the actual use of a snare drum instead of the traditional rim shot - to my ears, a welcome change. Peppy and poppy, Marley is in rare form on this track, laying down a beat that is not only danceable, but one that continues his pattern of challenging the listener to think past the lyrics.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The other track, "Redemption Song," is the starkest portrait of Marley as an artist. Featuring only Marley on acoustic guitar and vocal, he offers this track almost as a known "farewell" to his fans. It doesn't have a traditional reggae feel to it (I can't imagine this song ever being done by a full band), and its sudden stop to close the album almost is a reminder of how Marley would be silenced shortly after this album's release.

Of the remaining tracks on Uprising, one can often hear in Marley's vocals that something was wrong. Honestly, they were not as strong as they had been in recent years (and Marley was never an overpowering singer in the first place), so the hint of weakness in this category should have put a red flag up for people.

This notwithstanding, the first half of Uprising is strong enough to stand on its own, with only "Bad Card" being a weak link. Other songs like "Coming In From The Cold" and "We And Dem" carry the album to greater heights. "Work" is an interesting track, a social commentary on how almost all of us try to get through one day just to make the time to the weekend pass more quickly.

And while the second half of Uprising contains the two hits, the remaining three tracks show signs of slowing down. "Pimper's Paradise" is not one of Marley's better works, while "Zion Train" and "Forever Loving Jah" are marginal, at best.

In a way, to even suggest the slightest hint of weakness on Uprising may be seen as blasphemy, or disrespect to Marley's memory. But when compared to some of his earlier works, there is a noticeable change in the songwriting - compare some of the weaker tracks to numbers like "Lively Up Yourself," "Is This Love" or the kick-ass live version of "No Woman No Cry", and tell me that they're on the same levels.

Still, there is enough on Uprising to keep the listener intrigued for most of the time - as well as to remind them just how much Marley and his music are sorely missed.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tuff Gong / Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.