Marley (A Film By
It may seem odd that we are reviewing a reggae
documentary on blues CD review site.
The influence of American music, especially soul,
blues and R&B, on reggae music is very obvious.
Marley's compositions were about living in poverty,
social injustices, heartbreak, etc. .... yeah, just
like the blues. Original Wailer Neville Livingston
(aka Bunny Wailer) often proclaimed that he was just
a blues singer.
Not to mention the fact that Kevin MacDonald's two
hour and 25 minute is just so damn good that it
should be essential viewing (and listening) for
every music fan.
It could be argued that Marley was the most
influential musician of any style of popular music
.... ever! Yes, I agree, that's a bold statement. A
similar case could be made for musical icons like
Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Charlie Parker, Hank
Williams, and many others. But I believe that
Marley's influence went deeper than that of any
31 years after his death, Bob Marley still defines
reggae music. When one mentions reggae music, most
think of Marley. But his influence transcended the
music --- do an online search on the Rastafarian
religion, and Marley's name is mentioned. Do an
online search on the country of Jamaica itself, and
Marley's name is mentioned.
I think we've established both Marley's influence on
the music as well as the effect of American music on
his stylings and compositions. On to a discussion of
this wonderful DVD ...
The documentary is extremely thorough, including
interviews of many of the people who were a part of
his life. The filmmakers even went as far away as
Germany to interview the nurse who cared for Marley
when he was in his final battle with the cancer that
took his life at the age of 36. They went to Gabon
to interview the daughter of the dictator of the
African republic; a big fan of his music, she
brought Marley and band to Gabon for a concert. Just
about everyone that had anything to do with reggae
music during the 1970s and '80s are included.
The film goes into great detail on one of Marley's
most important contributions, one that demonstrated
just how important a figure he was in Jamaica. In
1978, the country erupted in political violence
during a period when Marley was living in London.
Marley was brought back home to perform a unifying
concert in order to calm the warring factions ---
the film includes concert footage when he brought
the two rival political leaders, Michael Manley and
Edward Seaga, onstage to shake hands.
So much of Marley's life is documented in this film
that I can't begin to do it justice in this short
review. It's all here, interspersed with selections
from the deep catalog of his music as well as
countless minutes of vintage concert footage. I
can't recommend this film enough. The two hours and
25 minutes passes quickly, after which you'll be
tempted to restart the DVD and watch it all again.
Do yourself a favor and add this important piece of
musical history to your collection --- you won't
--- Bill Mitchell