BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS -- "Uprising," Island Records (ILPS 959 6).
Bob Marley is a musician with a message -- unfortunately, it's one we've heard before. A pious man, Marley sings heartily of devotion and liberty and redemption.He has stuck to a usually dependable formula for "Uprising," his umpteenth recording, but this time around he just can't cut it.
The Jamaican singer-songwriter has a keen ear for reggae and developed a following in the early 1970s by combining the peppery Caribbean beat with rock'n'roll and rhythm and blues. He had main-streamed his talents by the mid-'70s, spreading a toetapping gospel; and Marley and his group, The Wailers, were named band-of-the-year by Rolling Stone magazine.
But times and attitudes have mellowed while Marley and The Wailers haven't. The once-comfortable, familiar style now sounds tired and burned-out instead; both the beat and the sentiment seem clearly out of synch.
Though a few of the album's political and religious lyrics may still ring true, exhortations to get on board the "Zion Train," for example, are stiff and unmoving. And "Could You Be Loved" is a (barley) likeable tune -- but the lyric is an amalgam of cliches: The road of life is rocky, And you may stumble too. So while you point your fingers, Someone else is judging you. Love your brotherman.
Truly devoted fans of Bob Marley and The Wailers may find a track or two that satisfies, but "Uprising" won't please newcomers -- and it certanily won't attract them.