Bob Marley and the Wailers

Roots, Rock, Remixed

BY Brent HagermanPublished Sep 18, 2007

The thing to watch out for on Marley remixes is not what the producer does with Marley — it’s how he or she treats the contributions of Aston "Familyman” Barrett (the Wailers’ arranger and bassist) that really count. And since Familyman more than anyone else was responsible for the Wailers’ sound, tracks on Roots, Rock, Remixed that work with his vision tend to reinforce the strengths and character of this JAD/ Lee Perry-era material, while the songs that ignore Familyman tend to stumble without a suitable nexus. To that end, "Soul Shakedown Party” sounds a lot like the disastrous JAD remix experiment of 1985, complete with electronic handclaps and no soul in sight. "Rainbow Country,” one of the most gorgeous of Marley’s songs, falls apart in the usually able hands of DJ Spooky, due in part to his not knowing what to do with the bass. Likewise, "Lively Up Yourself” omits the best part of the song — the defining bass riff — though it does manage to at least offer a heavily retooled version to make up for it. King Kooba’s "African Herbsman” and Paul & Price’s "Small Axe,” on the other hand, build up from Familyman’s foundation and are stronger for it, while Yes King serves up a refreshingly earthy version of "Sun is Shining” that complements the mysterious quality of the original.

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