Sunday, June 3, 2012


Bob Marley survived an assassination attempt and left the political upheaval of his native Jamaica to record the definitive Biblical reflections of this reggae landmark.  Work began on 'Exodus' in Kingston, Jamaica amidst a state of national emergency.  Marley refused to take sides in the violent political landscape, seeking to create some kind of unity:  “God never made no difference between black, white, blue, pink or green. People is people, yuh know. That is the message we try to spread.”  He organized a free concert called ’Smile Jamaica’ to bring people together; but it was seen as supporting the prime minister and his political party.  Two days before the show, armed gunmen attacked his home, seriously wounding his wife and his manager.  Even though the rest of the Wailers were in hiding, Marley shocked everyone when he showed up for the concert and played a ninety minute set despite his own injuries.  He said:  "The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?" 

Marley left Jamaica and spent a month at Compass Point studios in the Bahamas before heading to England, where he saw another kind of cultural upheaval.  The unrest that fueled the punk movement also informs the music on 'Exodus'.  The album was completed at Island Studios in London.  "We are not part of the political thing in Jamaica.  Whatever I say in London, for English people to read, when people read it in Jamaica...people might think I want to come back and take over the place.  I don't want to be a leader...We are Rasta.  Our struggle is for Africa."

The sessions included Marley on guitar and percussion; Aston Barrett on bass, guitar, and percussion; Carlton Barrett on drums and percussion; Tyrone Downie on keyboards, percussion, and backing vocals; Alvin Patterson on percussion; Junior Marvin on lead guitar; and the I Threes (Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt) on backing vocals. The lyrics are serious and scathing, but also optimistic and ebullient; while the mellow grooves helped to make Marley an international star. 'Exodus' went to twenty-one in Austria, twenty in the US, fourteen in Norway, twelve in New Zealand, and eight in the UK. It was certified gold in the US and eight times platinum in Canada.

'Natural Mystic'

"This could be the first trumpet
Might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don't ask me why
There's a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
I won't tell no lie
If you listen carefully now, you will hear"

'Exodus' (movement of Jah people)

"Open your eyes and look within
Are you satisfied with the life you're living?
We know where we're going; we know where we're from
We're leaving Babylon, we're going to the fatherland"


"No bullet can stop us now, we neither beg nor will we bow
Neither can be bought or sold.
We all defend the right, JAH JAH children must unite
Your life is worth much more than gold."

'Waiting in Vain' was written about Marley's mistress Cindy Breakspeare.  

"It's been three years since I'm knocking on your door
And I still can knock some more
Ooh, girl, ooh, girl
Is it feasible, I wanna know now
For I to knock some more?
Ya see, in life I know there's lots of grief
But your love is my relief
Tears in my eyes burn
Tears in my eyes burn while I'm waiting
While I'm waiting for my turn."

'Three Little Birds'

"Rise up this morning
smiled with the rising sun
three little birds
pitch by my door step
singing sweet songs
of melodies pure and true
saying, this is my message to you:
Don't worry about a thing
cause every little thing is gonna be alright
don't worry about a thing
every little thing is gonna be alright"

'One Love/People Get Ready'

"One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Hear the children crying (One love)
Hear the children crying (One heart)
Sayin', 'Give thanks and praise to the Lord 
And I will feel all right.'"

'Punky Reggae Party' celebrates the punk music that he heard in London and namedrops The Dammed, The Jam, The Clash, Maytals, and Dr. Feelgood.  The song was a response to the Clash's cover of Junior Murvin's 'Police and Thieves'.  It was released as the b-side of 'Jamming' and later added to the cd reissue of 'Exodus'.

"It's a punky reggae party,
And it's alright,
What did you say?
Rejected by society
Treated with impunity
Protected by their dignity
I face reality
New wave, new craze"

full album:

All tracks written by Bob Marley, unless noted.

Side one
1. "Natural Mystic"   3:28
2. "So Much Things to Say"   3:08
3. "Guiltiness"   3:19
4. "The Heathen"   2:32
5. "Exodus"   7:40
Side two
6. "Jamming"   3:31
7. "Waiting in Vain"   4:16
8. "Turn Your Lights Down Low"   3:39
9. "Three Little Birds"   3:00
10. "One Love/People Get Ready" (Bob Marley / Curtis Mayfield) 2:52


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