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Sons of Bob


Bob Marley is rightly called the third world's first pop star, but it was rather a sad affair when the Oslo World Music Festival presented the frail remains of Marley's old band The Wailers as one of the main names of this year's festival. Next year, should the festival shake off the reggae nostalgia and show a touch of innovation by booking one of today's many glowing stars within the genre? For example, one of Bob's own sons.

Without charisma

There was nothing wrong with either the atmosphere at Rockefeller or the song selection during The Wailers' concert at the Oslo World Music Festival on 1 November. Four of the guys in the band have played with Bob Marley, but it didn't help much when it was totally unknown Gary Pine who was behind the microphone in classics like "Rastman Vibration" and "Exodus".

Pine has the look, but struggles with both inward charisma, a total lack of audience communication where he slams around the stage and a jumbled singing voice that was closer to Harald Eia's parody of Knut Arild Hareide than his royal Bob hotness.

The band itself was competent, but compared to dynamite concerts with Sizzla, Burning Spear and Sly & Robbie on the same stage, this evening was a china putt of a reminiscence. By booking The Wailers, the Oslo World Music Festival substantiated the enduring myth that Bob Marley is reggae only world star. Commercially, it was a perfectly understandable choice, but you didn't have to go that far to find a better alternative. We don't even have to leave the Marley family.

Genre Surfing

Take Damian «Jr. Gong »Marley, as with the album Welcome To Jamrock (Universal 2005) has released a tasty and varied bag of goodies from a reggae album. In practice, this is the work of two of Bob's sons, for Stephen Marley is a producer, musician and songwriter.

The album gives a confused overall impression, but today's reggae artists have a lot to consider when releasing a record. The reggae scene is also not as panicked about credibility and "authenticity" as rock and hip-hop, and therefore it is accepted to instantly switch between the dumbest pop songs and the strictest political music. Trendy punters will shrink across the slippery '80s saxophones and Bobby Brown's sticky chorus on' Beautiful ', reggae Puritans wowed by minimalist dancehall songs and hip-hop flirtation, while the militant cries of revolution may be too violent for a pop audience .

The title track "Welcome To Jamrock" is the clear winner here anyway; a song so strong that it will have ripple effects on Damian's career for years to come. Here he puts his finger precisely on today's problems in Jamaica over an effective and minimalist comp, spiced with a dangerous quote from the artist Ini Kamoze: "Out in the streets, they call it murder". Because while tourists sip drinks on the beach, the young people in Kingston's ghetto kill each other because of politics, drugs and poverty. Tourists visit Jamaica, while the population lives in Jamrock – and it is this shadowy side of their homeland that plays the main role on this album. Although of course there will be room for both happy party songs and slightly sticky love ballads.

More Marley's

Damian Marley has not inherited the soft and warm singing voice of his father, but has a harsh voice closer to classic toasters (Jamaica's response to rappers) like Ninjaman and Supercat. He wants very much at once, and that is both the strength and the weakness of this album. It is a musical summary of Jamaica life in 2005, which is why it provides a far better and more entertaining picture of today's reggae than the antiquarian and dusty reggae The Wailers leases.

Damien is not the only Marley son out there. Stephen Marley is mentioned, while Elder Ziggy Marley has released over ten albums with The Melody Makers. Julian and Rohan are less visible, and the latter is probably best known for marrying Lauryn Hill.

If I should recommend a Marley Jr. album next door Welcome To Jamrock, it must be Many More Roads (Artists Only 2001) by Ky-mani Marley. He is one of the sons who perhaps most faithfully buries himself in his father's musical universe, and this is a deep and genuine roots album – and a record that is safe waters for more traditionally minded Bob Marley fans. And far preferable to stagnant The Wailers.

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