Bob Marley And the Wailers (1973)
Quite obviously, this record is where reggae music burst onto the national scene. It had been thriving in the Caribbean for many years, but it took Bob Marley’s prophetic stance, friendly demeanor, universalist aspirations and ingratiating melodies to gain traction in the US and UK. Being a huge pot proponent in an era of marijuana-friendliness probably didn’t hurt.
Now, obviously, all reggae sounds the same in a formal sense. But Bob was very adept at variegating his grooves and hooks as much as he could. Compounded with his heartfelt ideology and complete sincerity, his legend was all but sealed. Plus, he had some great sympathetic musicians to play with, chief among them being Peter Tosh.
Marley’s later opus Exodus finds him appropriating an almost Messianic stature as a philosophical and moral guide, with higher musical highs and lower lows, but they’re really interchangeable in quality. This one was just first, and by that metric alone, it is truly revolutionary.
Key track: “Stir It Up”
See also: Natty Dread – Bob Marley And the Wailers (1974), Exodus – Bob Marley And the Wailers (1977)