Bob Marley & The Wailers :: Roots, Rock, Remixed
Music journalism is a tough gig. Outside of writing for magazines and online publications, one of the most ready means of making income is penning bios and press releases for labels. Thing is, often the records you receive are not exactly the sort of music you'd listen to, nor care for. Writing for the label is qualitatively different than a review for a third party - you can't say exactly what you necessarily wanted to. At times, it can provide pleasure, while sometimes it can be downright painful.
When I was asked to write a press release for a new collection of Bob Marley remixes, I was both excited and worried. I'd heard a slew of white label attempts that producers have released over the past decade, cut-and-paste tracks that would never find their way into my DJ sets, let alone iPod. I agreed to the job, and cautiously awaited the album.
What amazed me on first listen is the depth these dozen producers were able to pull from the original source material. All these songs are pre-Island tracks, and they were not given separate tracks from the studio. They had the same foundation that you or myself have, taking the song straight from CD and tweaking it to the best of their ability. And much to my pleasure, the remixers on Roots, Rock Remixed displayed an ingenious use of their creative juices, making my job all the easier.
The sweet swagger of Mark Rae's melodica-heavy take of "Sun is Shining" is an excellent example of this intelligent gravity. Going under the name Yes King for his dub-focused projects, this bass-heavy beast turns the analog digital without losing any sense of that crisp, vintage vibe. Same goes, with a little more kick, to Fort Knox Five's remake of "Duppy Conqueror," one of the most blatant dance-floor ready cuts here.
Another floor track is certainly Trio Electrio's hyper "Trenchtown Rock," which makes excellent use of a speedy drum kit and stellar synth lines. Jamie Odell, aka Jimpster, is the only producer to take it to the house tip, and does great work with the Peter Tosh classic, "400 Years." And while not known for club effectiveness, but for gorgeous, beautiful strings and percussion, Bombay Dub Orchestra creates a stunning rendition of "Lively Up Yourself" which stands up close to the original. When dealing with Nesta, close to is as close to perfect as one can hope for.
As a DJ, it's nice to have a stable of new but familiar tunes to drop on the dance floor, that uplift due to both the juiced up bass and unforgettable voice. As a music fanatic, the record works equally well at home, from start to finish. And as a lover of everything Bob, the producers deserve accolades for handling the tracks with respect, dignity and flavor. They had a weighty job on their shoulders, and handled it with ease.