By Shelah Moody
Ziggy Marley and Tom Morello
Photos Courtesy of Tuff Gong Worldwide, copyright 2017
On Nov. 1 at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, titans of reggae, rock, R&B, blues and New Orleans funk joined Ziggy and Stephen Marley in an all-star celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Exodus” album.
Released in June, 1977, “Exodus,” inspired by the 1976 assassination attempt at Bob Marley’s Kingston, JA home, which led him to leave Jamaica and take refuge in England, was hailed by “Time” magazine as the album of the century.
The sold-out Exodus 40 Live concert was orchestrated by Bob Marley’s eldest sons, multiple Grammy winners Ziggy and Stephen Marley, in collaboration with bassist/producer Don Was.
Stephen Marley and Cyril Neville
They put together a true movement of Jah people; a revolutionary dream band featuring Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers) on percussion, Terence Higgins (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) on drums, Ranoy Gordon and Lamar “Riff Raff” Brown (longtime guitarist and keyboardist for Stephen Marley), organist Ray Angry known for his work with Christina Aguilera and Ja Rule) and Peter Stroud (known for his work with Sheryl Crow and Don Henley) on lead guitar.
Each of the special guests on the Exodus 40 Live bill brought their own interpretations of Bob Marley’s music to the stage, some smooth and charismatic like Aloe Blacc’s version of “Waiting in Vain” and some introspective, like Jim James version of “Turn Your Lights Down Low.”
In one poetic moment, Stephen stood behind Cyril Neville and played the electric guitar as Neville sang the lyrics of Bob Marley’s “Guiltiness” in his raspy, wisdom-soaked voice.
“Whoa to the downpressor/they’ll eat the bread of sad tomorrow.”
Decades before “Exodus” was produced, Jamaican artists drew inspiration from the New Orleans R&B and blues artists they heard on the radio, hence, the evolution of reggae music.
In another poetic moment, Stephen and Ziggy rocked their electric guitars as Citizen Cope, eyes closed, sang a soulful version of “Heathen,” complimented by the sensual backing vocals of Briana Lee and Maiya Skyes.
In a glorious crescendo, during Ziggy and Stephen’s performance of the “Exodus” title track, special guest Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine delivered what will go down in history as one of the most bad-booty guitar solos of all time.
Morello made his guitar whisper, then talk, wail, then shout, then scream. Then, he flipped over his guitar and played it with his teeth. On the back of Morello’s guitar was a hand-written sign with a clear message.
The audience went wild. There was one more message scrawled on the front of Morello’s guitar: “Arm the Homeless.”
Social media lit up with comments about whether blatant political statements were appropriate at a reggae concert. Lest we forget, reggae music is peace music but it is also protest music as well as a catalyst for change.
“Exodus was a natural theme for Marley,” Vivien Goldman writes in “The Book of Exodus: The Making & Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album of the century.” (Three Rivers Press, 2006). ”Its issues of power, betrayal, hope disillusionments and the search for serenity were all uppermost in his mind as he created the ‘Exodus’ album with the Wailers. The Book of Exodus deals with leaving familiar oppression behind, braving the unknown and letting faith guide you to a better future.”
The Exodus 40 Live concert followed Tuff Gong Worldwide’s release of “Exodus: The Movement Continues…” a restatement, reissue, 40th anniversary edition of Bob Marley & the Wailers classic. Old school reggae fans will be glad to know that this version is also available on vinyl and cassette at Urban Outfitters for $12.99.
“It’s been 40 years since the release of the original ‘Exodus’ album, so we decided to do something very special: give the listeners a brand new perspective by mixing the album from scratch once again; the only difference being I am now the mixing engineer and it’s 2017, not 1977,” Ziggy writes in the album’s liner notes. “Along the way, I’ve discovered many gems in the original sessions, whether it be instrument parts that were not used, alternate vocal takes, alternate takes of songs, etc.”
On June 18, Ziggy Marley and the LA Philharmonic performed a beautiful, classical version of the song “Exodus” at the Hollywood Bowl in celebration of the album’s 40th anniversary.
For more information, go to www.ziggymarley.com and www.tuffgongworldwide.com.
Listen to the music of Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley on Streetwise Radio!