Bob Marley Ray Coleman - Essay

Ray Coleman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Exodus"] is a highly-charged spiritual record by the reggae musician most capable of articulating the mood of his people. It was conceived by Marley shortly after his brush with disaster at the hands of gunmen, and thus there's precious little joy about it.

Even so, Marley sounds his customarily "up" self—and there are fewer more worthwhile sounds around in contemporary music.

Only one song, "Waiting In Vain," comes across as a plain love theme. For the rest, there's either the traditional sensuality we've come to expect from Marley, or the spirituality of the first side. "The Heathen," "Exodus"—an unremittingly powerful track, perhaps the most potent on the LP—and the heavy insinuation of "Guiltiness" are all examples of spiritual conviction, but the endearing aspect of them all is the simplicity with which they're delivered. You don't get the feeling that a sermon is coming at you, or that Marley has suddenly found God….

This is a mesmerising album. While his last, "Rastaman Vibration," was rather cultish, this is more accessible, melodically richer, delivered with more directness than ever. Let's face it, after an attempt on his life, Marley has a right to celebrate his existence, and that's how the album sounds: a celebration.

Ray Coleman, "Rastaman Celebration," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), May 14, 1977, p. 27.