79. burnin’ and lootin’

“Burnin’ and Lootin’ goes back to 1973, almost the beginning of the Bob Marley and the Wailers story (certainly in terms of the music getting heard anywhere outside of Jamaica) but it took almost twenty years for it properly nail me. April-29-1992, the LA riots, watching it all go down on TV, then throwing in with a radio show that night, mixing in live TV audio, surfing the chaos, mixing it up with various relevant tunes, which meant lots of gangsta rap, of course, almost as angry as the day itself. But the song that ended up cutting the deepest that night, spoke most profoundly to the underlying history, the centuries of evil bullshit and terror that had fed the monster we were watching – that was Burnin’ and Lootin’. Because the only thing new about what had happened to Rodney King was the man’s name.” (Philip Random)

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94. Funky Kingston

“I never got to see most of the soul greats. No Ray Charles, Al Green, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye ticket stubs in my scrapbook. But I did catch Toots and Maytals while they were still in their prime, one of the best damned bands ever in the history of anything tearing the roof off Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, making me fall in love with all humanity. It wasn’t even reggae really, just big, soulful, fun and rockin’ music. And Funky Kingston (from the album of the same name) was the climax of the show, rude and raw and at least as hot as a hot night in Trenchtown.” (Philip Random)

141. soul fire

“In which Lee Scratch Perry (aka Rainford Hugh Perry), the maddest mix-doctor of them all, nails us with a powerful ember of soul fire ††that manages to be equal parts easy and strange. Because it’s roots reggae (always an easy groove) and it concerns the human soul (always strange). Doesn’t matter if you’re in feverishly hot Trenchtown, Jamaica, or just some pointless suburb at the north-western edge of the crumbling civilization known as Babylon. It’s all humanity if you drill deep enough.” (Philip Random)

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165. soul rebel

“With a small handful of exceptions, the very best Bob Marley is the very early Bob Marley, the stuff he recorded long before we, the godless multitudes of greater Babylon, had a clue that he even existed, when he was still just some struggling Jamaican local trying to believe in his soul. In particular, you’ve gotta love what he did with the singularly unsane Lee Scratch Perry in the producer’s chair. I do anyway, the two of them (and the band, of course) exploring far darker, edgier realms of soul and rebellion than what would eventually come to hog all the space on the Greatest Hits albums, get hippies dancing around bonfires, pretending they’re little birds.” (Philip Random)

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258. bucky skank

“It’s hard to get a specific date on Bucky Skank, just sometime in the 1970s, probably post 1972, which I don’t even know for sure, it just feels right that it came from the Black Ark, Mr. Lee Scratch Perry and his Upsetters being known for their stoned and wistful wandering both in and out of time. The groove is odd, almost broken. The lyrics are mostly nonsensical to my non-Jamaican ears. But it always brings a smile.” (Philip Random)

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308. crazy baldheads

“I believe that’s us Bob Marley is howling about here, our dads and granddads and uncles anyway – the crazy baldhead agents of colonial Babylon doing the devil’s work, making a mess of every beautiful thing in creation. Found on 1976’s Rastaman Vibration, the first Marley and the Wailers album to crack the American top ten. The times were a-changing. And you could dance to it.” (Philip Random)

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321. Charlie Don’t Surf

“Come 1980, The Clash really had nothing left to prove to anyone, having delivered perhaps the greatest rock and roll album of all time in the waning days of 1979, the four-sided monster known as London Calling. So what to do next except everything, which gave us the six-sided mega-monster Sandinista. Charlie Don’t Surf shows up well into things, a song that takes a line from Apocalypse Now and extrapolates from there, all distant helicopters and dreamy if discordant keyboards. A friend of mine heard it once at a bar in Jamaica and it worked so well it didn’t even register until a few hours later that The Clash’s take on reggae had made it to a Jamaican mixtape! Were they really that good? Apparently so.” (Philip Random)

339. Mr. Brown

Mr. Brown is definitely the most garage sounding track I’ve heard from Bob Marley, which is not a surprise given Lee Scratch Perry‘s presence at the mixing board, conjuring his unique and multihued magic. Found by me on Rasta Revolution, a 1974 compilation of various pre-fame Marley and the Wailers odds and ends, which means it probably got recorded prior to 1972. Not that Marley saw much fame anywhere beyond Jamaica until after 1974 anyway. And then I didn’t stumble onto it until at least 1994. But it still felt fresh, if a little ripe.” (Philip Random)

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500. guns of Brixton

“More than any other track, I’m thinking Guns of Brixton is what hooked me to the Clash. Because as much as I’d enjoyed their punk and powerful raving and drooling, this was obviously something else. Reggae, I guess, but not really. Because there’s way more going on here than just some white people ripping off Jamaican sounds, making it all sound like tourist music. Nah, Guns of Brixton is dangerous. What do you do when the cops bust in?” (Philip Random)

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