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Legend [2-CD & DVD] ()


An entry in the Universal Music Entertainment (UME) Deluxe Sound+Vision series of CD/DVD combos, this repackaging unites two releases that were themselves reissues when they first appeared in 2002 and 2003: a two-CD "Deluxe Edition" of the compilation Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and a DVD reissue of the 52-and-1/2-minute home video of the same name, which added as a bonus the 85-minute documentary Time Will Tell. It may seem odd to say so now that Legend is the recipient of a diamond certification for sales of over ten million copies in the U.S., but it does not live up to its subtitle. Assembled for the U.K. market in 1984, the collection consists mostly of Marley's British hit singles, which came in the second half of the 1970s. His vastly superior albums of the early '70s are under-represented -- there is nothing at all from Natty Dread, for example -- in favor of the more compromised music he made when he was trying to fit into the musical trends of the late '70s, particularly disco. The expanded version of the album contained here improves it, but still not to the extent of making it a definitive best-of. Reissue producer Bill Levenson, recalling that the original British cassette version had two extra tracks (in the mid-'80s there was an attempt to boost cassette sales by including bonus tracks not available on the comparable LPs), and added those songs, "Easy Skanking" and "Punky Reggae Party." And the second disc consists of remixes that were done in the 1980s and, for the most part, released then on 12" singles. Not all of them repeat tracks from the first disc. The remixes are mostly unremarkable, although the version of "Buffalo Soldier," which was a posthumously assembled recording to begin with, is very different, with an entirely new percussion track, and the version of "Exodus" runs nearly nine minutes. Still, UME might have been better advised to use the Legend follow-up Rebel Music in this package instead of the disc of remixes. The original Legend home video was a compilation of clips meant to complement the LP. Like the LP, it under-represents Marley's early-'70s work, since it largely consists of music videos made to promote the U.K. singles of the late '70s and early '80s, though there is one appearance of the original Wailers doing "Stir It Up" on British TV in 1973. Still, there are some remarkable performances, many of them drawn from a 1977 show at London's Rainbow Theater. Time Will Tell is a music-heavy film that lets Marley tell his story in his own words. (The heavy Jamaican patois he employs can be understood by choosing the English subtitles. There are also subtitles in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.) That story is told in only its broadest outlines, so that anyone unfamiliar with his life will be only slightly enlightened by the end. But there are a dozen and a half musical performances included, and many are impressive. The DVD allows the viewer to excerpt ten of them to be played separately from the film. Logging on to the Internet makes it possible to access an additional clip, a nine-minute performance of "Crazy Bald Heads" from the Rainbow show. The overall result is a big chunk of Marley music with visuals that will please his aficionados and perhaps even win him more fans, although a more representative selection of his recordings would have improved the package. [A two-CD/DVD edition of the CD was also released.] -- William Ruhlmann ~, Rovi Hide synopsis

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