Talkin' Blues

This compilation, timed to the 10th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death, is more than just a blast from the past. Since his tragic death from brain cancer in 1981, Marley’s reputation has acquired the dullness that comes with being turned into a saint, and classics like ”Get Up Stand Up” have lost much of their power for seeming so inextricably tied to the passe ’70s. But the 11 cuts on Talkin’ Blues reinvigorate the legend. Seven were recorded at a San Francisco radio station during the 1973 tour that broke the Wailers in this country, and on such signature tunes as ”Kinky Reggae” Marley sings like a man finally grasping the gold ring. Even better are stinging versions of two songs from the group’s scuffling early days, ”Walk the Proud Land” and ”You Can’t Blame the Youth” (with Peter Tosh singing lead). Snippets of a 1975 Jamaica radio interview alternate with the songs, and even if the sound quality and Marley’s patois reduce it to aural oatmeal, the artist’s fierce social commitment comes through. The only sour taste to this package is a pull-out order form for Marley posters and T-shirts — a marketing maneuver more appropriate to Colonel Tom Parker than the singer’s own record company. B+

Talkin' Blues
  • Music