September 17, 1984 12:00 PM

Bob Marley and the Wailers

When Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at 36, his passing was mourned far beyond the world of reggae music. During the ’70s Marley became an international superstar, and this LP of his greatest hits is evidence of why no reggae artist has come along to fill his seven-league boots. Marley expressed himself in the spartan musical form of his native Jamaica. With his distinctive voice and the backing of his Wailers, he crafted songs of lilting beauty and impassioned power. Many of the cuts on Legend, such as Get Up Stand Up, Exodus and Jamming, reflect Marley’s strong political and Rastafarian religious convictions. But Waiting in Vain and Stir It Up speak to more usual pop themes: love and sex. Listening to Three Little Birds, a joyous celebration of life, is like being caressed by a warm trade wind. On the most unusual tune on the record, Redemption Song, Marley, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, comes across like a Caribbean Bob Dylan. If there’s a popular-music heaven, Bob Marley is surely there; he’s the angel in dreadlocks. (Island)

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