Bob Marley Timothy White - Essay

Timothy White

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Exodus is the Wailers'] most unified U.S. album. If the preceding Rastaman Vibration was Marley's successful stab at joining the sparse repetition of conventional reggae rhythms with the aural density of hard rock, Exodus is a facile interface of Rastafarian reggae-fired dictums and a tender R&B style similar to mid-'60s Motown.

Sides one and two are thematically discrete; the lp's first five songs evince traditional Rasta concerns (the poor man's struggle against civil injustice; religious humility; temporal and/or spiritual flight) with the able Barrett Bros.' thickest steam-crackle-and-pop! bass/drums dialogue since Natty Dread. Laced, as always, with Jamaican folk adages, cuts such as "The Heathen" and "So Much Things to Say" cook with the ominous power that first attracted American listeners to Catch a Fire.

Side two, by contrast, is a full-scale, slightly flawed return to the R&B-rooted love balladry that characterized the Wailers' earliest Ska output. Appropriately, the last track is a remake of "One Love," the group's mid-'60s Coxsone spinoff single of [The Impressions's] "People Get Ready."…

Overall, Exodus is an almost airtight synthesis of the strengths of the Wailers' long history, but nowhere is their body music more potent than on the title track. Furiously pumping out reggae's popular mili-tant beat, the band rocks with an exhilarating resolve appropriate even in a disco. Bob Marley's often-arcane migration continues, yet his message on Exodus is as clear as was that of the Bee Gees: This summer, I and I should (still) be dancing.

Timothy White, "Rastamom Vibe," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1977 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), August, 1977, p. 64.∗