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Playlist: The Best of Bob Marley & the Wailers: The Early Years ()

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Lest anyone be deceived, this set is "The Best of Bob Marley & the Wailers: The Early Years," which means don't expect the mature and politically savvy reggae of Marley's later Island material. What's here is late-period ska recorded at Studio One with producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd between 1963 and 1966, and it shows a group still heavily influenced by American doo wop and R&B and still trying to figure out how to make those influences fold into a truly Jamaican sound. Only a couple of tracks really hint at what was to come, "One Love" and "Simmer Down" in particular, and for some of these sides Marley wasn't even present (the recordings here of "Dancing Shoes" and "He Who Feels It (Knows It)," for instance, were done in 1966 when Marley was working a factory job in the states). The bottom line is that nothing collected here is musically essential for any but the most ardent Marley fan, although these recordings are certainly historically valuable because the roots and influences of Marley's mature sound are clear as blueprints throughout this little collection. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi Hide synopsis

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