George Starostin's Reviews



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Sergey Zhilkin <> (31.05.2001)

When I was a small boy I used to listen to many vinyl discs, which were lying near stereo system. I remember that once I put on a record that attracted me with the image of very hairy black. In a week or so I listened to all records (4 ones) with this black and only after that my parents told me that it was Bob Marley.

My brother always joked that all these albums were recorded on a lawn where Marley with his other friends were having a lunch time and just singing songs with the use of bass guitar, acustic one and small drums. When I imagined these enveloped with tobacco smoke blacks sitting in a circle and playing all those simple songs, I laughed. Really, I believed my big brother...

Time passed and I suddenly realised that his music was serious! And, what was more striking, he was VERY resonant. I could never tell that by his slow voice... It's a real shame that I dismissed him as a lightweight singer. Now I want to grab all his albums on CD (or at least on tapes), cause all my vinyl records are now old and rusty...

The main Marley's flaw, however, was listenability. All his songs are very hard for us. I mean that European's ear can't distinguish all those little sounds, which are all over the record. And I really think that we miss something. That's why I heard from many people that Marley was a commercial (!!!) singer - he wrote only one tune and used it hundred times. Don't believe 'em, they just don't have enough time to dig Marley's style. Unfortunately, you HAVE to spend a month or so to dig him. If you don't have so much free time, better stay away from commenting Marley's music. Anyway, George will put your e-mail in the address line and after day or so you'll get a 30Mb file in your mailbox. Do you want to download it for almost 4 hours? At least you'll have enough free time to dig Marley's vocal... Okay, I warned you.

PS. As for his general rating, I'm still hesitating - 3 or 4?

unglingadeild <> (02.01.2003)

Nice to hear from fellow Marley fans. I´m 34 years old, I have heard Marley for over 25 years got 24 of his Vinil records (Yes Vinil, don´t laugh) and allways he gets me up in a good mood. Of all the records this one is my favorite. Survival is for my parts the best one and belive me they are all good, and many of them great. My problem is that those old Vinil records are getting older, and I cant get some of them on CD´s where I live, I will figure this out someday, and when that day comes, it will hopefully feel like hearing it for the first time again, and again and again.

<> (10.01.2004)

Bob Marley was one of the last artists with an incredibly high level of listenablitly and resonance, which is why I'm sort of against your rating of 3. In my mind, he's definatly a strong 4, and was perhaps only one great album away from a weak 5. His ability as a single artist though was masterful. He had Jim Morrison's mystical cult like presense but in a postive way as opposed to a mysterious dark one. He was definatly tuned into the greater Dylan self awarness factor. And he was a melodic heavyweight, which in combination with his insanly powerful and moving voice allowed him to tap into that Beatle like zen of direct clear emotive expression. He was like a serious and more intelligent version of Elvis or something, at least for Jamacians, and he has influenced just tons of musicians, espeically rockers like Clapton, the Police, and now even the likes of the Strokes. Maybe the last true African icon in serious pop music (he definatly was more signifcant then Michael Jackson and Prince) after Hendrix, in my opinion. Also, he did a better job then Lennon at combining politics and music in the 70s (which he too got shot over, but survived). It's clear he was a legend, isn't it?

tim forcella <> (07.09.2006)

Just found this site and found I agree with a lot of the things you say but I wanted to point some incorrect statements about Marley. Marley wasn't the father of reggae and he certainly didn't create the genre. He may be the Beatles of reggae, but he's not the Chuck Berry. Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker and others were making outstanding reggae much before Marley was and Toots coined the term reggae in 68. What Marley did was come up with a more American acceptable style of reggae that has, as genius work always does, created a subgenre of followers. I'm not saying that Marley isn't reggae's greatest star. He just wasn't the first.


Joe Marshall <> (13.08.2002)

Just one quibble with the review - Peter Tosh didn't play the guitar solo on "Concrete Jungle". Island Records boss Chris Blackwell was keen to have the Wailers accepted by rock critics, who tended to regard reggae as novelty dance music only. To this end he (and Bob) supervised a number of overdubs by session musicians to make the album more accessible to a rock audience. It seemed to work - although the album wasn't a great commercial success, it was a critical hit, helping to raise the profile of the Wailers with white British audiences.

Sorry, but I can't recall the name of the guy who played actually lead guitar on 'Concrete Jungle'!

Jaime Vargas <> (23.11.2002)

To answer the previous comment: the studio musicians in the “international” versión of Catch a Fire (it was released in Jamaica without the overdubs) were Harvey Mandel (ex-Canned Heat and remembered too for his work in the Stones’ Black and Blue) and keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick (who I knew about for his contributions to Jethro Tull’s Catfish Rising and Nightcap, but he’s better known for being the keyboardist in late-period Free).

Glenn Wiener <> (08.05.2003)

Digging that cool reggae by Mr. Marley mon. But you should check out the expanded CD which includes two excellent bonus tracks, 'High Tide or Low Tide' and 'All Day All Night'. I''ll step out on a limb but 'High Tide Or Low Tide' ranks as the best song on this CD. A melody that grabbed me from the first listen combined with heartfelt lyrics and a beautiful keyboard passage. Many other highlights here include the intricate soling on 'Concrete Jungle', a groovin beat on 'Rock It Baby', and cool stylings on 'Kinky Reggae'. Not overly diverse but plenty fun and good for any party. So chill out to these cool tunes.

Fernando H. Canto <> (20.03.2003)

Well, I have to say I'm hardpressed to say why I should like this record more than Natty Dread. Okay, mainly because there can be no better stretch of four Reggae songs than the first four tracks in that album, but... Catch A Fire stands as competition, though. Mainly because of 'Concrete Jungle', one of the best Reggae songs of all time! Truly angry, and catchy! Plus, that intro, you know? You can make many a newcomer think it's Pink Floyd actually playing, before the Reggae groove kicks in. I love listening to this song very loud. 'Slave Driver' is equally beautiful. Great vocal harmonies and "sla-a-ave dri-i-iver..." hook. After that, hardly any song reaches that level of beauty, but I don't care. The two romantic spots on 'Rock It Baby' and 'Stir It Up' are cute and gentle, and the other critique spots in 'No More Trouble', '400 Years', 'Stop That Train' and 'Midnight Ravers' are all worthwhile. And 'Kinky Reggae' sounds truly kinky! Some very odd combinations of notes in there. The only nuisance is that ALL tracks after 'Stop That Train' are in either A major or A minor! This makes the album a bit too samey, if you're not used to Reggae. But that's it.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (31.05.2001)

My booklet says that it's Bob's finest album and I kinda agree with it. To tell the truth, I feel that when Marley starts writing many songs all by himself, the percent of filler grows up to 30% or so. Natty dread is a band's effort (only about a half of songs were (co)written by Bob) and they look to be very tight.

The best thing about this record is that it's much atmospheric. When I study and put on this album, I just can't realise the time. And it's not a kind of exaggeration by any means - Natty dread can really grab you, so be careful. It's not the record that can be listened in a hurry - you MUST give it a credit of time. Fortunately, you won't be disappointed. Natty dread has many hits. The main of 'em, I guess, are 'No woman, no cry' (that's what I call a 'driving' song!) and 'Rebel music' (that's a great example of Bob being a hook-master. Paul McCartney can lick Marley's ass untill it becomes white as sheet of paper!). I enjoy both of them, especially 'Rebel music'. The most funny thing about Marley is that it's no matter how he names a song - you can almost guess it's rhythm. In case of 'Rebel music' I expected something hard-rocking or at least angry but, no, it was very calm, but dangerous. Marley is no player! As I said before, he is very resonant singer. The rest of record is nice, too. Especially, title track and 'Revolution'.

Although there're only 9 songs, I have a feeling that 'Natty dread' is way too short. Maybe it's just me... But, anyway, don't be a racist, buy this record. On overall rating, I would give it one a thirteen (I'm still not sure about Marley's general rating (4? why not?)).

PS. I'll kill this bass player one day! My right speaker is coughing now even though I set the bass trigger on 50% level...

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.01.2004)

Hey, I have always liked this guy. You know, I'm very partial towards reggae, and I enjoy the guts out of some well done reggae. And, let's face it, you won't find any better reggae man than Marley. I know this is not a very good thing to say, generally, but Marley was, and is, the man that truly brought reggae into a real revolution. I read bits and pieces of the Marley Bible (according to my cousins), a book called "Catch A Fire", and it told a lot about the history of reggae in Jamaica. It all started when some guy (I swear I can't remember his name right now... he might have been Vincent Ford, but I'm not sure) moved there and decided to found his own record label called... Island Records! And Bob & The Wailers were, officially, the first reggae band to record a full LP, and it was - sure enough - Catch A Fire. It was usual to release reggae singles by the time, but Catch A Fire was the first LP. Needless to say, that was a breakthrough. I remember listening to some of that album, and it was really good. This one in particular? Well, it does boast a couple of immortal classics: the first four songs are ALL classics, and 'No Woman No Cry' was popularised by the slow, 7-minute live version found on the compilarion Legend, but this one is very nice, as well - quite obscure, here in Brazil. You know, Marley and reggae in general are quite big on here. Though I have to admit: for 2 or so years, reggae has been a bloody FASHION on here. We have a couple of extremely good (if unremarkable) reggae bands on Brazil, but suddenly, there was a surge of Reggae bands everywhere - and not very good ones, even. Sad - such an unique genre, like reggae, turned to fashion. Oh, well, it's Brazil. There is a new fashion appearing every day. Good reviews, by the way. Cool headed, and giving a nice perspective from someone who's not MADLY into any kind of reggae. Marley's da king, mon.

By the way, I can't remember now, but the expression "catch a fire" either has something to do with "catch Jah's fire", as in "burning in Hell", or smoking ganja. Maybe it's both, but I'm not sure right now.


No reader comments yet.


Glenn Wiener <> (27.05.2003)

Consistent if not downright spectacular. Many of Marley's more famous songs are on here including 'Jamming', 'Exodus', 'Three Little Birds', and 'Waiting In Vain'. The others take a little bit of listening but are certainly of good quality. Truthfully 'Turn Your Lights Down Low' is quite soothing. The tone is a little redundant and the title track goes on a little too long. Nonetheless, this CD strikes the soul in a good way.

Bill Slocum <> (14.08.2004)

The only way Exodus would probably not be someone's best choice for a first Marley disc is if they have Legend already and want to sample one of the catalog albums. Exodus is so top-heavy with great songs that Legend already pulled five of them for its own legendary tracklist: "Three Little Birds," "One Love/People Get Ready," "Waiting In Vain," "Exodus," and "Jammin'."

Then again, there's five more songs on Exodus the album, and they range from good to great. You say that "Turn Your Lights Down Low" is the album's lowpoint, and you may be right. But it's a very good, sultry love-man song, the kind Teddy Pendergrass or Tom Jones would have had fun with, and the fact its on the same album as "Jammin'" and "Guiltiness" is testament to just how brilliant and diverse Bob Marley really was. He popularized an entire genre more or less all by himself, then went about expanding its boundaries as far as they would go. No wonder they call this guy the Third World's Beatles.

Speaking of the Beatles, I hearby nominate "Jammin'" as the coolest non-Beatles song ever recorded. It's not even my favorite on the album, because "Waiting In Vain" is on here, too; first aid to anyone who has ever loved and lost. But if you have any kind of pulse, you respond when that penny-in-a-can drum fill starts up. I don't care if it's a wedding band, you just do.

As you point out, Time magazine did call this "Album Of The Century." You seem a bit put out by this. I think it was a ballsy, solid choice. Considering the out-of-scale impact of Marley's music today - the fact he never cracked the U.S. Top 40 in his lifetime (except indirectly, as the writer of "I Shot The Sheriff") but feels as much a part of our shared pop music heritage today as the Beatles and the Stones - clearly his albums had incredible impact without the usual promotional benefits, not to mention how much of an outlier it all was in comparison with the trends of the time (in 1977, for example, punk, disco, and hard rock.) In other words, Marley's albums stood on their own for a long time, before Legend made him a mainstream success, and Exodus maybe just a little taller.

A deluxe, two-disc Exodus has been out for some time now, and contains some nice extras, including a song left off the album, "Roots," some interesting "Jammin'" variations, and a second disc featuring five selections from a live U.K. concert performed just one day after Exodus's release and a couple of sides Marley made later that same summer with reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. It's a pretty great set, particularly "Roots" and the live tracks.


<> (14.05.2001)

The "Kaya" Marley sings about is actually an ode to marijuana...kaya being one of many Jamaican slang terms for the esteemed (in the Rastafarian sect) weed. As an aside, just about all of the songs contained on this disc were written long before 1978...they were first performed with the original Wailers. The (I believe) out of print LP African Herbsman contained many of these same tunes, much less "polished", and therefore more "roots"-oriented than the versions which appear on Kaya.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (01.06.2001)

Now THIS is becoming a little bit generic. I can easily accept the first half of album (tracks 1-5) but, I'm sorry to hear this from myself, the rest tracks are too much ordinary for Marley and it's getting really hard to find a little gem among them. Maybe 'Crisis' is more or less decent but that's all I remember. Even almost ten listens which I gave to this record can't help me. Sorry.

But the first part is terrific. I know all these tunes from my childhood when I spent days sitting near player... Ah, that were the days - nothing to care about, no work and no annoying parents... That's why I know all these tunes by heart and everytime I hear them, they warm my soul. Indeed, 'Easy skanking', 'Kaya' and 'Satisfy my soul' have a tropical heat hidden in them. I like this lazy atmosphere.

But the rating will be 10 'cause there's too much confusion, I can't get no relief....


Sergey Zhilkin <> (05.06.2001)

George, don't blame our pirates. You know, even God himself has big mistakes (and one of them, sure enough, is Mark Prindle). The missing track isn't that good (because I don't even remember it!) to pump rating of album up to 10, so you may feel free. Unfortunately, the person who can't feel free is me. I just don't know how to take this album - I don't understand it. At the same time I want to stay away from saying that Bob chews the same tune all over the record. Okay, even if music is chewing gum what about resonance now? Pretty sad, but I can't feel it, too. The main word about this record is 'generic'. Nothing else. Though, we don't face any horrible songs, do we? Maybe this is the only thing that can save Survival from drowning in sea of dirty words. This is a nice lesson for Marley - he should try to be more humble next time around.

PS. I don't get why there's no USSR flag on the cover!

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