By Ira Robbins
Updated August 17, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT

Before the development of reggae music, Bob Marley and the Wailers were Jamaica’s leading proponents of the unique Caribbean mixture of soul, calypso, and jazz known as ska. For The Birth of a Legend, 20 of the Wailers’ best early sides (previously compiled on various reissue albums) were run through an exotic new noise removal and stereo imaging system, making a wealth of fascinating music cleanly audible and widely available for the first time in decades. Besides demonstrating reggae’s immediate roots, the songs glow with the strength of young Marley’s handsome vocals. Timothy White’s detailed liner notes place the material in clear historical context, although more specific track information would have been useful. A