Released on Feburary 17, 2015 and kicking off a year of
celebrating what would have been Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, the new
archival release, Bob Marley and the
Wailers Easy Skanking Boston 1978 is a welcome and long awaited addition to
the Marley live discography. The new beautiful soundboard recording features
the first of two performances at the 3,600 seat Boston Music Hall on June 8, 1978. These
particular performances have circulated for years amongst Marley fans and
scholars and with this release, the tapes have finally earned an official
documentation. Recorded right in the middle of the 1978 US Kaya tour the band is practiced, smoldering, smoking and
disseminating the Wailer brand of ‘Rebel Music’.
recording of the early show, an additional Blue Ray included in the CD/Blu Ray
combo package spotlights 7 songs shot by an enterprising fan from the front row in surprising
and inspiring clarity. The resulting footage puts the viewer at Marley’s feet
for a divine and inspiring view of the master in his element. Marley’s stage
presence is mesmerizing, as every rhythmic movement and vocal nuance is
channeled through him supernaturally. This bonus footage is truly a gift for
any fans of Marley and offers an additional and unique glimpse into his
ritualistic performing alchemy. Where the additional ‘bootleg’ video footage is missing in
spots due to reel changes, the Marley family has added tasteful and trippy
animations to help fill the gaps. The result is a spectacular addendum to the complete
Driver’ that slowly opens the creaking musical door without a sound and slinks out of
the humid island darkness. When Marley’s vocals enter the crowd explodes in appreciation
and recognition. Marley has a slight rasp to his emotive vocal performance only
adding to its emotional resonance. The band is already cinched tight with the rhythm
section of the Barrett brothers cutting the trail and leading the group toward
higher land for a greater view.
down a substantial groove through the collaboration of Aston Barrett’s bass, Junior
Marvin and Al Anderson’s guitars in a trident pronged rendition of the central
melody line. The cadence of the track is as thick and sweet and Guava jelly,
driving and allowing for Marley and the ‘I Three’s vocals to embrace, retreat
and collaborate to great heights. The track segues seamlessly into ‘Them Belly
Full’ like ocean sand meeting shoreline. The tempo increases and the music roaches
into a puff of smoke initiated by skunky Tyrone Downie keyboards and overdriven
Junior Marvin guitar.
morphed into a dance hall orchestra, with each of Marley’s melodies transforming
into an expansive reggae sonic landscape. This musical freedom enabled Marley
to strut and sway his way through his politically charged commentaries and
joyful reiterations of faith and ganja with grace.
followers of Jah to take back their confidence and their inner power to rise up
and fight another day. Family Man’s plucky bass again pushes the performance,
warming the assembled crowd and acting as the rumbling thunder to Marley’s
lightening strike words.
comes next and in typical fashion is performed flawlessly with the crowd
responding in kind to Marley’s authoritative questioning. This version contains
every bit of power as the version contained on the live LP Babylon By Bus and in the ‘rock room’s’ opinion definitely contains
more impressive sonics. The accompanying Blu-Ray picks up at this point of the
performance so the listener can now enjoy the additional rare visuals and intimate
front row glimpse of Marley and the Wailers in on stage action. The footage is
stunning in its clarity in regards to its age and non-professional nature and
the gaps filled by the created visualizations are equal in their clarity and positive
smoke and Marley deep inside the music are featured in the accompanying
footage. His complete absorption into the soul of the muse is stunning to witness,
so tastefully documented.
performance. The version is imposing and pulls an enormous response from the
crowd. At this point it was possibly Marley’s most popular track due to Clapton’s
magnification of it through his cover version. Clapton’s reading cannot touch a
version of this caliber…ever.
dropped to the ground and Marley invites the assembled friends in the crowd to ‘take
it easy’. ‘Easy Skanking’, from the recently released Kaya, and the title track of this particular release makes a laid
back appearance with thick joint between its fingers. A highlight performance
and communal celebration that illustrates the essential elements that make
Marley’s performances so special.
a version that while not as poignant as the well known version from 1975’s Live LP none the less does not fail to
induce chills and inspire quiet contemplation. Marley makes this rendition as
inspiring as any that preceded or that would follow, as his innate gift for
sharing, inspiring and performing for any and all crowds as if it would be his
final performance is expressed on this recording.
the band into a string of Wailers standards that individually ‘catch a fire’
and collaboratively provoke the crowd into ecstasy. ‘Lively up Yourself’
appears for the ashes of ‘No Woman, No Cry’, inviting the collected crowd to
not ‘be no drag’ and to feel the diverse reggae riddims surging through their
bodies and minds. Junior Marvin is the star here with pointed soloing that
magnifies Marley’s vocals and off mic asides. This is an on stage party and the
spirit is infectious as the crowd can be heard responding to the music, as well
as Marley’s trance inducing dance.
that is included of this particular jam finds Marley immersed in the collective
music making and communal vibe of the crowd. He faces Carlton Barrett at his
drum kit and sways in creative fulfillment and absolute joy. The ‘I Three’s
dance in a tight family circle, lost in the created sounds, existing for the
musical moment, beautifully captured for posterity on this release.
high tempo ‘Jammin’ that elicits the same sort of communal response as ‘Lively
up Yourself’. Marley scats and raps as the Wailers churn a foaming musical
current underneath him. Again, what
footage is available here finds Marley eyes closed drenched in sweat, glowing
with the energy of a worldly messenger visiting for only a delicate moment. The
extended ‘Jammin’ ends the main segment of the set with Marley sharing a
microphone with arms draped around the ‘I Three’s’ before leaving the stage,
but soon to return with a militant and didactic display of three of his most influential
songs and performances.
Marley lights up a triad of heavy commentary, leaving the concert attendees
with not only a dizzying display of musical spiritual awakening, but of
messages to contemplate and possibly apply to their own existence. The crowd is
ecstatic and begs for the band to return as documented on the recording and
when Marley returns to the concert stage the performance ascends to the next
throughout their career and this particular version is another dramatic and
deadly serious melodic statement built on Emperor Haile Selassie I definitive
foundational words. Marley’s vocals are chilling in their expressed emotional
content, he voice quivering. When the band climbs the ladder in ‘No More
Trouble’ the music plays the band and the groove takes on its own form and
life. This is the Wailers in their element and at their finest as they seamlessly
enter ‘Get up Stand Up’. Marley dons guitar and short sleeved red t-shirt for
this reading, thankfully captured by the enterprising fan.
expression of hopefulness and strength. The multifarious drums and percussion
accentuate Marley’s vocal patterns that answer both the instrumental details
and the ‘I Three’s’ flawlessly placed Rasta interjections. After a thorough exploration
of ‘Get Up and Stand Up’ including the tribal call and response between Marley
and audience, the song with a signal from Marley, suddenly becomes the show
screaming at the songs climax, ‘Jah!’, ‘Rastafari!’ repeatedly with such
investment and soul that it’s impossible to not become moved from the developed
musical magic. Bathed in red light, fist clenched, Marley quakes from an unknown
force, he stands stoically with hand raised, dreads reverberating from his
rocking head, opening his mouth and draining his reserves from such an exhausting
and inspired performance. The show could not have ended in any other way.
Wailers Easy Skanking, Boston 1978 is an amazing introductory release by
the Marley family to celebrate his 70th Earth Strong day as well as
a welcome addition to the ‘rock room’s’ Marley archives. The collection
highlights a moving performance spotlighted by stunning soundboard quality and
bonus accompanying video footage. Similar to the Hendrix archives, just when
you think there cannot be much more Marley in the vaults, something like this
comes out and rekindles the hope and excitement once again. A must have.