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Marley Musical Exhumation Continues

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When all is said and done, Bob Marley’s musical bones will have been as picked over as Jimi Hendrix’s and John Lennon’s:

    The family of Bob Marley has discovered a batch of unheard recordings by the reggae icon that may be used as the basis for an album partially produced in the same style as the mid-1990s Beatles singles “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love.”

    Marley’s eldest son, Ziggy, tells Billboard.com the eight-track recordings, which his father made at home, will likely be supplemented with vocals from himself as well as some of his musical siblings.

    ….the Marleys would embellish some of the newly discovered songs, says Ziggy.

    In addition, Ziggy says he would like to have such top-shelf musicians as Carlos Santana (a well-known Marley fan) contribute to the album. The Marley family is in discussion with Universal Music for the release of the album, which Ziggy hopes will be issued next year.

    Recorded in the late ’70s, the songs will not be familiar to Bob’s fans. “I didn’t know any of these songs,” Ziggy says. “The way he was playing the guitar on one song that I heard, it was like jazz. It wasn’t what you would expect from him at all.” [Billboard]

This brings up the age-old debate between preserving the integrity of an artist’s authorized published work, and disgorgement of every possible scrap for posterity. Where there is money to be made, disgorgement wins out almost every time.

But there is a genuine fan angle too: soon after Bob died, I was in the Island Records office of Roger Steffens, who was their reggae guru at the time, and he played the uptempo ska/electro version of “Buffalo Soldier” that came to be featured on early versions of the Legend collection (not on the current single CD, but is on the Deluxe Edition 2-CD version). Steffens said Bob had been heading in an uptempo, electronic direction when he died. We were both like little kids, giddy with the excitement of hearing something something we “weren’t supposed” to hear, that virtually no one else had heard at that time. So I can understand the urge to get this stuff out there – it’s only human.

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