Bob Marley Ray Coleman - Essay

Ray Coleman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Rastaman Vibration"] is the most searingly political album issued right across the spectrum of contemporary music in recent years….

This album is perhaps the most vocal and blatant preaching of the need for unity between colours. And aside from his rapidly accelerating personal status as a superstar, Bob Marley has put together here an album of compelling importance at a crucial time in world history….

[Look] out for richly rewarding aspects of art when a performer is both committed and able to communicate that belief with clear, simple methods—like music….

[Until now Marley's] lyrics have been just a little cloudy when they've hit the chart: "I Shot The Sheriff," "Stir It Up" and even "No Woman, No Cry" have not carried with much clarity the intensity of his real path. And although all Marley/Wailers albums have had plenty of strength, nothing has come near this one for weighty comment; indeed the very title is straight ahead, with the conviction of a movement that's gathering momentum and relevance.

What's especially good about this spectacular album is that while the songs are of much more power than before, the music has, if anything, simplified and thus become stronger….

It's a marvellous album, infectiously articulate in every sense. The huge question facing Marley and his followers is whether they can now expand their message beyond the converts whom they have reached for so long. The indications are bright…. The record confirms my belief that alongside Dylan and Hendrix, both of whom captured a mood and delivered themselves with an irresistible and magnetic force, Bob Marley is placing that rare finger of genius on undeniably vital issues.

Ray Coleman, "Marley's 'Great' Vibrations," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), May 1, 1976, p. 31.