As promised, here’s my review of Bob Marley & The Wailers- Easy Skanking in Boston ’78…

One of the best perks of writing music blogs is that sometimes you get a chance to listen to new music ahead of their release dates. Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 is not exactly *new* music. It was actually performed in 1978. The CD is a compilation of two historic live shows that were performed at Boston’s Music Hall on June 8, 1978, just three years before Bob Marley succumbed to cancer. Although I was around in 1978, I was just twelve days shy of my 6th birthday when these concerts were recorded. On February 17, 2015, this previously unreleased concert CD will be offered for sale for the first time. I will admit that I am not as familiar with reggae as some of my friends are, though I am certainly familiar with Bob Marley & The Wailers. His music was a staple at my college. I’m sure his music is still blared from dormitories and college apartments around the world.

Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 will be available as just a CD, CD + DVD, or a CD + Blu-ray Combo. Right now, I only have access to the musical portion of this album, but I will soon get the DVD portion. Unfortunately, since I live in Germany, mail can take awhile to get to me. I will have to post a review of the concert footage video at a later date. I look forward to seeing the video, which was shot by a fan Bob Marley allowed to sit right in front of the stage.

Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 runs for 76 minutes and consists of thirteen tracks, several of which are live versions of well-known songs that were already very familiar to me. I really enjoy live albums by musicians who are genuinely talented. There’s something about the raw energy of a crowd cheering, a musician interacting with the crowd, and the innovation of a live performance that excites me. Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 is well produced; I can hear a gentle ripple of crowd cheering in the background, but the production on this live album really focuses on the music. For most of the album, when the music is playing, the crowd noise is kept to a minimum as Bob Marley jams with his Wailers. Between the tracks, I hear a more generous round of applause. I’m sure at the actual event, there was much hooting, hollering, and hell raising going on. I only mention this because I once had a friend who hated live albums. She didn’t like hearing the crowds clap and shout. I’m thinking of her now as I write that for a live album, this particular recording doesn’t focus too much on the audience’s reaction or Marley’s interaction with the crowd. What you’ll hear is very tight, well played live music that spotlights Bob Marley’s distinctive sound and his energy during a live performance.

As I sit here and listen to this newly available yet classic music, I can’t help but reflect on the broad appeal and timelessness of Bob Marley’s sound. There’s a lot of music out there that may have been popular when it was first produced, but doesn’t stand the test of time. This music was recorded in 1978, a full 36 years ago, but it still sounds amazing in 2015. I confess that I was not familiar with the song “Easy Skanking” before I listened to this concert CD named after it, but I think it’s going to be a new favorite for me. The gentle and comforting melody of “No Woman No Cry” is still every bit as singable and enjoyable as it’s always been. Marley’s singing is spot on, augmented by his backup singers’ tight harmonies.

The set continues seamlessly with “Lively Up Yourself”, another well-known song with a more upbeat tempo. But my personal favorite Marley song and track on this new live CD is “Jamming”. On Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 Bob Marley & The Wailers pump up the energy, making this a great song to listen to in the morning. It’s clear this song was intended to be the showstopper– building up the audience for the end of the show. This particular rendition is alive with energy; I can’t wait to see the video footage of it. I have a feeling people were really into it, especially at the end of the song when I can hear an extended ovation by the crowd. After the crowd calms down a little, Marley introduces the next song, “War-No More Trouble”, a song that really is appropriate today. Marley’s anti-war song leads into a rousing performance of “Get Up Stand Up”, and finally “Exodus”.

If you enjoy Bob Marley & The Wailers, you should pick up Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 when it’s released on February 17th. I think you’ll really enjoy it. It’s beautifully mastered, sounds great on my sound system, and has a great mix of classic Marley songs. But what makes this commemorative release so worth it is that it really captures the energy of Bob Marley & The Wailers in concert. I probably would have liked to have heard a little more audience interplay, just so I could capture more of the essence of Marley’s live performance. When the video gets here, I think I’ll have more of an appreciation for what seeing Marley live on stage was really like.

Track listing for Easy Skanking in Boston ’78

Slave Driver
Burnin’ and Lootin’
Them Belly Full
The Heathen
Rebel Music
I Shot The Sheriff
Easy Skanking
No Woman, No Cry
Lively Up Yourself
War-No More Trouble
Get Up Stand Up