06 February 2020 16:43

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Best Bob Marley Songs: 20 Essential Legend-Defining Tracks

Poster icon, inspirational figure, messenger for Rastafarianism, eternally young hero… Bob Marley (born 6 February 1945; died 11 May 1981) was all those things and more. Musically, however, he truly delivered, and the best Bob Marley songs range from spiritual ballads to political statements, sexy serenades to declarations of love. Think we've missed any of your best Bob Marley songs? Best Bob Marley Songs: 20 Essential Legend-Defining Tracks Bob Marley And The Wailers let the world know what it's missing on this homage to their art and the joy of music. The original version from the 1971 single, the glorious cut on 1974's Natty Dread album, or a celebration from the several official live releases – all will get you on your feet.

The song was originated by Bob and reggae vocalist King Sporty, and was released after Marley's death, appearing on 1983's Confrontation album and hitting No.4 in the UK. Down the years, The Wailers had released several songs with the words "satisfy my soul" in their chorus, among them the rootsy 'Satisfy My Soul Jah Jah', the romantic 'Satisfy My Soul Babe' and the song that eventually became the 1978 hit 'Satisfy My Soul', previously known as 'Don't Rock The Boat'. The story within 'Small Axe', first recorded during Marley's 1971 sessions for Lee Perry, was coming true when he returned to it two years later on Burnin'. Bob and The Wailers cut this upbeat ska song of unity in the mid-60s at their musical alma mater, Studio One, and when Bob returned to it in a reggae style in 1977, he acknowledged the influence of Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready' on its lyrics and intent. 'Slave Driver''s lyrics gave a title to The Wailers' debut album for Island, Catch A Fire, and it took us back to the days of slavery in a way that only Rasta reggae dared.

Bob and The Wailers had previously covered a Curtis Mayfield song, 'I Gotta Keep On Moving', with a similar storyline, but Marley took things further in this saga of a bully with a badge, released on 1973's Burnin'. Bob had an international outlook and was happy to sell this song, which he'd recorded in 1967, when US R&B singer Johnny Nash came calling for a taste of the reggae vibe at the start of the 70s. It was a hit for Nash in 1972, but, a year later, The Wailers gave it a deeper and definitively "yard" feel on their first Island album, Catch A Fire. This is not the only song Bob wrote on this subject: in 1966 The Wailers had sung his 'I'm Still Waiting', which became a reggae classic through several Jamaican cover versions. 'Redemption Song' was the final track on the final Marley album released in his lifetime, Uprising.

There's an even more touching version on the Songs Of Freedom box set, with a deeply ill Bob, playing the final gig of his lifetime, performing it in a way and beneath a burden that few artists would have had the heart and will to deliver. Today, Bob Marley would have been 74 years of age. In the nearly 39 years since his untimely death, Marley still remains the most popular figure in reggae music. From there, Marley contacted Island Records' founder Chris Blackwell and was advanced funds to record the hit album "Catch A Fire." Marley continued on recording under the Wailers name, employing his wife Rita on vocals and formed an entirely new backing band. Bob Marley and The Wailers released thirteen albums between 1965 and 1983, with the last, "Confrontation," released posthumously.

Marley has the distinction of being the most-universally loved reggae artists of all times, with some fans saying their only exposure to reggae music came by way of Bob Marley. While his children may have captured their father's honeyed vocals and potency at times, there has never been an artist like Bob Marley since. Bob Marley was born 75 years ago today. The legendary reggae star, who passed away in 1981, is being commemorated all this year by the Marley family, UMe and Island Records, who are launching plans for a celebration called MARLEY75. It'll include new music, art, and more from the Marley archives that will be released throughout the year.

The kickoff for MARLEY75 began yesterday with a new official music video for "Redemption Song," which came out 40 years ago this fall on Marley's final studio album Uprising. The video was animated by French artists Octave Marsal & Theo De Gueltzl, who said: "From the history of Slavery and Jamaica, Rastafarian culture, legacy of prophets (Haile Selassie the 1st, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X), as well as Bob's personal life, we take the audience on a journey through allegories and representations." Bob Marley celebrated with year of special moments The Marley family, UMe and Island Records have begun to roll out their yearlong MARLEY75 commemorative plans in celebration of the legendary cultural icon, Bob Marley's 75th birthday and 40th anniversary of the timeless classic Redemption Song. In honour of Black History Month, now underway, and to mark the beginning of all MARLEY75 celebrations in 2020, the official music video for Redemption Song premiered this week (Feb 5th) on Bob Marley's YouTube channel. "From the history of Slavery and Jamaica, Rastafarian culture, legacy of prophets (Haile Selassie the 1st, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X), as well as Bob's personal life, we take the audience on a journey through allegories and representations." – Marsal and De Gueltzl The MARLEY75 celebrations will encompass all things music, fashion, art, photography, technology, sport and film, providing fans unprecedented access to archives from the legendary artist's estate in new, thoughtful and innovative ways. The inaugural MARLEY75 music festivities kick off this Spring, the first of many celebrations to come. October 2020 will see the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley's Redemption Song. Released in October 1980 and taken from his ninth album Uprising (Island Records), the track was inspired by a speech from Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey's "The Work That Has Been Done" and is considered by many as one of the greatest songs ever written in popular culture. Bob Marley's music catalogue has amassed billions of streams and sold millions of albums worldwide, while his hits compilation, Legend, remains the world's best-selling reggae album and longest-charting album in the history of Billboard's Catalog Albums chart.