By our name alone, one can easily deduce what we’re all about here at Albumism. Indeed, we celebrate albums of all stripes, all genres, all time periods, and all formats. With one exception, that is.
If there’s one type of album that we’re not particularly fond of, it’s those massively popular “Greatest Hits” and “Best Of” compilations. In our experience, most of them are dubious propositions, necessary evils to some extent. But we get it. Not everyone has the appetite or the financial wherewithal to seek out and stock up on the multiple entries that span an artist’s studio discography. It’s a helluva lot easier—and we suppose less risky for many—to simply skip the time-consuming exploratory work, in favor of embracing one consolidated sequence of an artist’s most successful or notable songs.
The problem with this, however, is that these so-called perfect encapsulations of an artist’s recorded repertoire are invariably imperfect and incomplete, with plenty of gaps to be found in their track listings. Hence why we’ve decided to identify five worthy songs that were conspicuously left off the final running order of familiar hits packages. Our hope in shining a light on this quintet of songs is that it may prompt at least a few hits collection junkies to dig just a bit deeper and discover even more to love about the artists in question.
So without further ado, check out my picks for five deserving songs missing from Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Legend below, and let us know which songs you would have added to the final track list via the comments section below.
Bob Marley & The Wailers | Legend
Island/Tuff Gong (1984)
01. “Is This Love”
02. “No Woman No Cry” (Live)
03. “Could You Be Loved”
04. “Three Little Birds”
05. “Buffalo Soldier”
06. “Get Up Stand Up”
07. “Stir It Up”
08. “One Love/People Get Ready”
09. “I Shot the Sheriff”
10. “Waiting in Vain”
11. “Redemption Song”
12. “Satisfy My Soul”
Five Great Songs Missing from Legend:
Catch a Fire (1973)
As the first album Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded for the Chris Blackwell managed Island Records, Catch a Fire represented a tipping point not just for the band, but for reggae music more broadly. With the recording, distribution and promotional support afforded by a major label, the group was able to spread their musical message beyond the confines of their native Jamaica to reach a wider, international audience. When intrigued listeners dropped the needle on track 1 of side A for the first time, for many, it was their introduction to an entirely new musical phenomenon and a monumentally gifted star in the making. And while the organ and guitar-driven song’s subject matter is dark and sobering, Marley’s ability to convey inner-city struggle in universal terms – whether the concrete jungles exist in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, the United States or elsewhere – affirmed the power of his unparalleled, unifying musical voice.
“Trenchtown Rock” (Live)
Oh, to have been in the crowd at London’s Lyceum Theatre on either of the two mid-July 1975 evenings captured on Live!. Those fortunate enough to bear witness to the Wailers in glorious form were treated to a performance for the ages, experiencing first-hand Marley’s refrain of “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain,” which opens this anthemic homage to both the power of song and reggae’s birthplace.
Considering that the landmark Exodus is tantamount to a best-of compilation in its own right, it should surprise absolutely no one that five of the LP’s tracks appear on Legend, the most of any Marley studio album. A sixth entry should have been accommodated, however. “Natural Mystic” builds slowly but dramatically, with its airy and seemingly innocuous soundscape belying its grim subject matter, which explores the dire straits of the human condition, with apocalyptic allusions to the end of times. The song ultimately finds Marley imploring his fellow man and woman to listen to the “natural mystic,” or the unspoken yet unavoidable truths that the earth is trying to convey regarding the fractured state of humanity. Indeed, the fatalism felt in the early moments of the song is soon tempered by glimmers of a pragmatic resolve and commitment to conquering hardship, as heard in lines like: “One and all have to face reality now / Although I've tried to find the answer to all the questions they ask / Although I know it's impossible to go living through the past / Don't tell no lie.”
“Sun Is Shining”
Originally recorded for the band’s 1971 album Soul Revolution and subsequently included on their 1973 LP African Herbsman, Marley decided to re-record the song for 1978’s Kaya. Containing a hypnotic arrangement that initially conjures a sense of dread and impending doom, the song’s musical composition actually belies the lyrics’ more upbeat message of spiritual awakening through Jah’s love, manifested here in the form of the radiant sun. Word to the wise, however, stay far, far away from the wholly unnecessary, borderline sacrilegious Funkstar De Luxe remix that ascended the dance charts back in 1999.
“So Much Trouble in the World”
Presumably due to its more overtly militant and Pan-Africanist disposition, Survival is arguably Bob Marley & The Wailers’ most underappreciated album during their prolific 1970s run, as evidenced by the fact that not a single one of the LP’s eleven songs feature on Legend. Driven by a simple message that still resonates nearly forty years later, the synth-laden album opener “So Much Trouble in the World” functions as Marley’s clarion call to his brothers and sisters to persevere and “face the day, come what may” in the face of the world’s many ills.