Jeff Tamarkin, Rovi
David Jeffries, Rovi
The production standards on the EMI records were high; Tosh was looking to incorporate all of the modern sounds he liked into his own and trademark it. He succeeded, as proven by tracks like "Bush Doctor," "Mystic Man," "Oh Bumbo Klaat," "The Day the Dollar Die," and the single version of "(You Gotta Walk And) Don't Look Back" with Mick Jagger. In the live cuts included here, including the stellar medley of "Equal Rights/ Downpresser Man" as well as "African" and "Get Up, Stand Up," the listener gets Tosh pretty much unedited, full of swirling, burning, and dark intensity. The album closes with "Fool's Die (For Want of Wisdom)," a song known by Wailers fans as "Wisdom" from 1970 and issued on the posthumous Marley collection as "Lips of the Righteous." But neither of these versions comes close to Tosh's spooky, deeply moving balladic haunt of a song. Flutes, electric pianos, and a shimmering acoustic guitar float atop a spare bassline to gird Tosh's vocal as it asks the tough questions of all within hearing range. At about five minutes, the instruments -- all covered in swimming echoes and delicate spaces -- carry the track to its resting place in the heart of the listener. This is among Tosh's most moving songs, and his least angry. Perhaps his bemusement was really heartbreak, but then, that will never be known; listeners can only find instruction in his songs, not solace. If any figure in popular music deserved to be reconsidered for the entirety of his contribution, Tosh is such an artist, and this collection proves it. Therefore, as Bruce Cockburn so aptly put it in a song long ago: "All you can do is praise the razor/For the fineness of the slash." Tosh was the razor; these are his beautiful wounds. Praise them, for they are worthy.
Thom Jurek, Rovi
Bob Marley & the Wailers became the most recognizable proponents of Jamaican music, while rebel anthems included here such as "Get Up Stand Up," "War" and "Exodus" enshrined Marley as a human rights icon to millions. The soundtrack offers extraordinary rare tracks as well as the familiar building blocks of Bob's career: from the sweet ska of "Simmer Down" and "Judge Not," through Trenchtown anthems like "Concrete Jungle" and "Natty Dread," and unreleased live recordings such as "No Woman No Cry (Live at The Lyceum)" or the historic "Jammin' (Live at One Love Peace Concert)." Special versions such as "Crazy Baldhead (Groucho Mix)" and "Exodus (Kindred Spirit Dub Mix)" reveal new angles to these classics. But it's feel-good greats like "Roots, Rock, Reggae" that testify to Marley's enduring legacy. He urges us to "dance 'cause we are free," and this soundtrack provides the ideal foundation to do just that.
Tomas Palermo, Google Play