Bob Marley Stephen Davis - Essay

Stephen Davis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Out of [a] soulful anarchomystical murk spring the Wailers and the dark trance rhythms of their reggae music. For more than ten years they have been laying down a revolutionary vision of an imprisoned people in the fetters of an authoritarian and openly corrupt government. Marley's political villains are Jamaican but his images are universal. The Wailers' records, particularly Marley's songs, have been polemical tracts against the harshness of this life and the brutalizing structure that keeps his people down. Marley's social stance is summed up by "I Shot the Sheriff."…

From the beginning Marley distilled the anger of Jamaican youth into the bitterness of his lyrics. The most melodically beautiful of Marley's songs, "Trenchtown Rock," celebrates a particularly violent street riot in Kingston in the mid-Sixties. The uncompromising images of the equally sublime "Kinky Reggae" were of slave ships, cracking whips and crucified souls. Marley's genius was in the irony of these images set to hypnotizing melodies and the irresistable reggae meter….

The new album, Natty Dread, is the culmination of Marley's political art to this point. With every album he's been rocking a little harder and reaching further out to produce the stunning effect of a successful spell. Natty Dread deals with rebellion and personal liberation, using tough and sensual reggae to slam home Marley's bold and dead-serious opinions on...

(The entire section is 407 words.)