Bob Marley & the Wailers – Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On (1995)

“Despite its massive commercial success, Legend, the 1984 Bob Marley & the Wailers compilation, was not an impressive ‘best-of’ of the group’s full career. It was assembled to highlight Marley’s U.K. hit singles of the late ’70s and seriously underrepresented his early standards. You might think, therefore, that 11 years later, when Island Records finally got around to releasing what is, in essence, ‘Legend, Vol. 2,’ the label would redress the imbalance. No such luck. As its title, Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On, suggests, this Marley ‘rest-of’ has the same flaw as its predecessor. (‘Natural Mystic,’ the leadoff track, is from 1977’s Exodus, an album that had already provided five tracks to Legend.) Although there were few additional U.K. singles, this collection gathers them up, including ‘Iron Lion Zion’ and the newly reconfigured “Keep on Moving,” both posthumous tracks heavily overdubbed long after Marley’s death that sound little like his classic style. The rest of the album scatters tracks from such later albums as Survival and Uprising, though there are three songs from Rastaman Vibration, an album ignored by Legend, one of them Marley’s sole Billboard Hot 100 chart entry, ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae.’ … Maybe due to recording or publishing contracts, Island has some reason to avoid putting Bob Marley & the Wailers’ early classics on their compilations. In any case, Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On adds to the frustration of fans who expect compilations to actually feature the highlights of the band’s career.”

Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On is a collection of album tracks by Bob Marley, and is an addendum to the 1984 compilation album, Legend. The material on Legend consists mainly of love songs with a few of Marley’s more politicized and religious themed works; the selection on Natural Mystic therefore attempts to redress the balance. On the opening title track, he warns of how ‘one and all got to face reality now’ in a world of massive upheaval and change. Other songs explore salvation through oneness (‘Africa Unite’), the greed that propels the world towards an inevitable Armageddon (‘So Much Trouble In The World’) and Marley’s own role as a persecuted leader (‘Iron Lion Zion’). The magic that was part of his and The Wailers’ live shows erupts in the included version of ‘Trenchtown Rock’ which has an infectiuousness that demands a rhythmic response. The inclusion of ‘Easy Skanking’ shows a meditative and laid-back Marley, partaking in Jamaica’s most profitable cash crop during a spiritual time-out amidst the chaos of everyday life.”

YouTube: Natural Mystic (Live), Roots Rock Reggae, Trenchtown Rock

YouTube: Natural Mystic – The Legend Lives On (Full Album)


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