I can’t hear this album without thinking of the British punk, ska, and rocksteady groups Bob Marley influenced—and who, in turn, influenced him on this record.
I’d listen to side one before going to a demonstration and save side two for a serious date night.
Exodus could work as a soundtrack for a number of scenes in Guy Ritchie’s London caper movies or in a documentary about political uprisings.
The power of Bob Marley and the Wailer’s ninth studio album is rooted in suffering and a need for change. Released just six months after Marley and his wife Rita were wounded in an assassination attempt in his native Jamaica, much of the material was written in London, where Marley had gone to escape political violence. The iconic title track’s pulsing beats and churning drive come courtesy of a newly formed Wailers lineup that included brothers Carlton and Aston “Family Man” Barnett on drums and bass, respectively. Al Anderson and Junior Marvin’s guitar work gives every track, even the darker ones, a celebratory lift that makes Exodus one of the rare politically conscious albums you can play to get a party started.
Exodus also stands as Marley’s most cohesive effort and contains more influences than any other reggae record of the period. Side one tackles social upheaval, while side two concerns spirituality and sex. Marley deftly mixes Memphis-style horn arrangements with elements of rocksteady on “Guiltiness,” a ballad sung as a warning to the those who oppress the poor. “Jamming” marries ska and rocksteady, and serves as an ideal soundtrack for celebrating family and friendship.
The good news about the 2015 reissue is that the 180-gram vinyl, pressed in the Netherlands, is very quiet and utterly flat. The bad news? The sonics don’t hold up when compared to the all-analog U.S. original Island release or any of the various high-resolution downloads currently available. The luxurious depth and gut-level punch of the Barnett brothers’ rhythms sound weaker and more distant. As a result, the higher-register notes and cymbal highlights become unnaturally prominent, causing the Universal pressing to feel thinner and far less emotionally engaging. Your best bet is to find a U.S. or U.K. original or opt for a high-resolution download.
Last chance to change your mind...