Bob Marley’s Rousing ‘Uprising Live!’ Concert From His Final Tour Earns Its Exclamation Point With A Long Awaited Vinyl Release

Bob Marley | Uprising Live!-vinyl | (Eagle)
4 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Recorded on Bob Marley’s final titular tour before his May 1981 passing, this sizzling performance has already been released on double CD/DVD in 2014. It gets a vinyl debut with this triple platter package, including a limited colored edition.

The hour and three quarter show, recorded at a single gig in Dortmund Germany’s Westfalenhalle on June 13, 1980, kicks off with a peppy four song set from the I-Threes, evenly distributing lead vocals on a trio of tunes, then joining for Rita Marley’s “That’s the Way Jah Planned It.”

Then it’s off to the races with Marley’s show, although things ramp up from a slow start with a snoozy “Natural Mystic” and a rote reading of “Positive Vibration” until “Revolution” finally catches fire. The audio is also wonky as what sounds like a mono mix doesn’t quite capture all the instruments, while Marley’s vocals are up front. But after that slightly shaky beginning, the concert heats up with a feisty “I Shot the Sheriff” and a searing “War/No More Trouble.”

There’s no looking back from there. Oddly “Zion Train,” the first track taken from the Uprising album, doesn’t appear until the ninth spot of the 18 song set. Four more selections are rolled out from that disc including the funky “Could You Be Loved” and a sweet, mostly unplugged “Redemption Song” that starts  with Marley solo (as on the studio version) with the Wailers gradually entering. The evening ends with a passionate “Get Up Stand Up.” Since the song had been included at virtually every Marley show since at least 1973, you might think he would phone it in. That’s absolutely not the case. It still sounds rousing, especially when the audience joins for some animated call and response singing. The band returns for an encore, closing with a stirring “Lively Up Yourself.”

You can easily overlook the somewhat compressed and brittle audio to enjoy, what is for Marley, a typically inspired presentation. It’s not the legend’s finest recorded stage work, and surely not the place to start an appreciation of the reggae icon. But Uprising Live! remains a moving and exciting example of just how committed he, and his longtime band, was even at this late stage of his career.    

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