Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
and another Inferior is finally
and permanently discredited
well, everywhere is war
me say war…
– Songwriters: Allen Cole / Carleton Barrett / Bob Marley
– War / No More Trouble lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
– Performed by: Bob Marley and the Wailers
TIME TO TAKE a break from the usual political nonsense and other silly stuff and go into art, particularly music. Not just any music but one that advocates for freedom and emancipation from mental slavery.
And we’re going to talk about reggae, the music of Bob Marley closely associated with the Rastafarian lifestyle, particularly his last tour and live album before his untimely death.
For the uninitiated, Bob Marley is “reggae music.” Yes, you may argue that Bob Marley did not invent reggae nor is he the only reggae artist but you must agree with Moi that because of him the once obscure and ethnic music from the island of Jamaica became one of the most popular musical genres today.
For the artistically challenged, reggae is “a style of popular music with strongly accented subsidiary beat, originating in Jamaica. Reggae evolved in the late 1960s from Ska and other local variations on Calypso and Rhythm and Blues and became widely known in the 1970s through the work of Bob Marley, its lyrics are much influenced by Rastafarian ideas.”
Ska is “a style of fast popular music having a strong offbeat and originating in Jamaica in the 1960s, a forerunner of reggae.”
Finally, Rastafarian – “a member of the Rastafarian religious movement. Rastafarians have distinct codes of behaviour and dress, including the wearing of dreadlocks, the smoking of cannabis, the rejection of Western medicine and adherence to a diet that excludes pork, shellfish and milk.
And this is the album we’re going to talk about:
Babylon by Bus is a live album released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1978. The tracks on this album are considered, with two exceptions, to be from the Pavillon de Paris concerts over 3 nights, 25–27 June 1978.
Babylon by Bus was a live double-album, recorded for the most part during a three-night run of shows in June 1978 at the 10,000-capacity Pavillon de Paris in France, and released on 10 November. It was the second album to be released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1978, a year during which the band also slotted in a “world” tour to promote the previous album, Kaya.
Now what makes this album really singular is the fact that this is Bob Marley’s last tour and live album before his passing shortly after the album’s release.
This was some workload for a man who had been diagnosed with malignant cancer of the toe the year before. And it was some balancing act for a band whose music embodied the raw street-spirit of their shanty town origins yet who were now routinely required to deliver a full-scale, bread-and-circuses spectacle on some of the world’s biggest indoor stages.
Babylon by Bus offers a fine sampling of material from the group’s Seventies repertoire, ranging from the wrathful “Rebel Music” and “Rat Race” to such sultty dance tunes as “Stir It Up.” Yet each number is now infused with a sprightly clarity and tenderness that redoubles the emotional impact. Bob Marley’s vocals are his most expressive — and least pompous — ever.
Purists will observe — quite correctly — that the overall direction of Babylon by Bus is much too rock-oriented to be called reggae.
Babylon by Bus reverberates with an awesome faith in the power of love in all its difficult and rewarding forms. It’s a statement that Bob Marley and the Wailers have been building up to for some time, and it explodes here with a humanity and an urgency as potent as any of the band’s previous darker calls to arms
Bob Marley helped invent reggae and now, with stunning effectiveness, he’s managed to reinvent it. After a long, uneven period of experimentation, the wily spider man has transcended the genre’s limitations and, in the process, established himself as one of the most exciting rock innovators of the late Seventies.
And finally from AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer:
As with their first concert album, Babylon by Bus highlights material from the band’s history up to that point. “No More Trouble” is placed in an entirely new context when linked with “War,” which features lyrics taken from a United Nations speech given by Haile Selassie I, the Ethiopian emperor considered the father of modern Rastafarianism.
There is no doubt that Babylon by Bus is the most influential live Reggae album for all times and a must have for any music collector worth his salt, it is arguably a collector’s item./PN