Various Artists, Everybody Loves Bob Marley, Neos Productions
It’s true: Just about everyone loves Robert Nesta Marley, the most famous of reggae artists. But, to paraphrase a bumper sticker, Bob, deliver us from your followers. Because if there’s anything local musicians like better than Marley, it seems to be performing bad covers of his music. This compilation rounds up a bunch of these reinterpretations into one convenient album.
The curation here is pretty loose. Many of the covers are years old, and the artists aren’t all local—some hail from England, Tahiti and Jamaica. The decision to include Vincent Ford and Lee Perry compositions is understandable, as they’re primarily known as Marley’s songs, but Macka B’s “Bob” makes the cut simply by being about Bob Marley.
As for the covers themselves, the performances range from insipid, local-style renditions to outright aping of Bob’s distinctive vocal style. Carole and Florent Atem’s ill-conceived “One Love Medley” Frankensteins together “One Love,” “Is This Love,” “Three Little Birds” and “No Woman No Cry.” Marty Dread’s take on “Roots Rock Reggae” only manages to highlight his modest vocal range. One of the best tracks—Robi Kahakalau’s “Do It Twice”—will sound familiar, as it’s been a radio staple for a while now.
Cover songs are great in concept, and imaginative reworkings of Bob’s music do exist. Not here, unfortunately.