Bob Marley and the Wailers , Live Forever [Live Album Review]

by Woody on February 11, 2011

On more than one occasion, my friends and I have contemplated the top five concerts we would most like to attend if given the opportunity to go back in time. Although my list has varied over the years, Bob Marley and the Wailers 1973 Halloween show in Sausalito, CA has long been a constant. Meanwhile, in the absence of time travel, I continue to savor my bootleg of this concert, and various other live Marley recordings; including the recently released Live Forever.

Recorded on September 23, 1980 at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, Live Forever captures the closing night of Marleys Uprising Tour.’ Sadly, this proved to be his final concert, as he died of cancer in May, 1981. Despite his declining health, the power and energy of Marleys presence is palpable throughout the album. The evenings setlist was comprised primarily of live standards from previous albums such as “Burnin and Lootin,” “Them Belly Full,” and “No Woman No Cry.” These tracks are complimented by offerings from Uprising including “Zion Train” and the immortal “Redemption Song.”

Unfortunately, the reel to reel soundboard tape was exhausted prior to the final two tracks: “Work” and “Get Up Stand Up.” Subsequently, a secondary source was used to complete Live Forever, and these songs appear in considerably lower fidelity. The albums other prominent weakness is an apparent sign of the times, as the Wailers rely too heavily on 80s era synthesizer sounds throughout. The discord between this regrettable technology and the beautifully crafted roots reggae is most evident on “Could You Be Loved”.

Regardless of these shortcomings, this album is an essential piece of Marleys recorded legacy. It reminds us that even at a weakened state, he was one of the most dynamic and utterly brilliant performers. Finally, Live Forever reinforces my notion that a Bob Marley concert was a transcendent experience that remains worthy of a trip back in time, or more simply of ample airtime on your stereo.

Bob Marley and the Wailers , Zimbabwe/Jamming (Live From Dortmund Germany 1980)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kevin b February 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

There was indeed a natural mystic in the air that night. I’m grateful for another version “Zion Train”, which is a favorite. Live Forever is best enjoyed with friends while having a good old time.

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