Volume 3: Issue 8: October/November 2003
SPIRITUAL JOURNEY (DVD/CD
Review by Andy Clayden
There are already 3 excellent Bob Marley documentries available that tell his life story and legend in such style and class, that any newcomer is bound to have a difficult time by comparison.
This new DVD, however, clearly doesn't aim to contend with those heavyweight releases, but instead seems content to occupy a position to compliment them.
Running less than an hour, with a mere 2 minutes of Marley himself, and containing none of the Island era music, it would be all too easy to dismiss this one from the running. That would be a mistake, however, as Spiritual Journey contains some fine moments, especially among its new interview footage.
Opening with footage previously seen in the Caribbean Nights documentry, the pace soon picks up with the appearance of Ziggy, commenting on the inspiration his father instilled into the family and their own music. Bob's mother Cedella Booker also appears, via a 1996 interview with Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan on daytime TV's This Morning show.
Bob's life and Rasta enlightenment are covered in a simple, effective manner that, while not delivering information in great, revealing detail, does the job well enough to paint the backdrop for the interview footage.
The real strength of this film lies in this interview material. Former Rolling Stones manager Tony Calder the former Rolling Stones manager, offers anecdotes of first encountering Marley before his international breathrough, and pops up throughout with enlightening and entertaining comments.
Patrick Nelson, a friend of Marley's, makes for possibly the most entertaining of the interviewees; his heartfelt opinons give an image of Marley that will no doubt match those of many fans, while he articulately manges to explain the qualities that made Bob so special. Bunny Melody and Dennis Bovell also appear with discerning comments, and you actually wish the film could have been made longer by extending these interviews.
Marley himself finally speaks halfway through the film, via a 1978 Canadian interview and news report - featuring a few, brief moments of the great man in concert - but while his absence from so much of the DVD could be crippling, much of Bob Marley's story is actually how he affected the lives of others, and this is what this film captures perfectly through the interviews.
Although not in the league of Rebel Music or Time Will Tell, Spititual Journey still entertains and offers worthwhile opinions that will be of interest to all Marley-philes.
The bonus audio CD comtains tracks from the pre Island era, produced by Lee Perry, Leslie Kong and the JAD organisation, alongside a 30 minute interview with Bob from a Californian restaurant in November 1979 (previoulsy available in the Chris Welch book CD/book pack).
Smartly packaged in a neat gold and black cover (take note Trojan), the booklet is a fine compliment to a very entertaning experience that manages to overcome the limitations, that could so easily have condemnded it as a dismal failure.
File alongside the Time Will Tell and Rebel Music films, for an entertaining extra chapter in the Marley story.
Released 27th October 2003. www.dvdisc.co.uk
THE LEGEND LIVE
Review by Andy Clayden
Originally released on video back in the early 1980's, and even screened on ITV in 1984, Bob Marley and the Wailers excellent performance from the Santa Barbara County Bowl in 1979 makes a long overdue return to the retail shelves via this excellent DVD release from Trojan.
Extended from the original 60 minute edit, the new edition now runs over half hour longer, giving us the first opportunity to witness the full recording of the show. The 21 tracks capture the band nearing the conclusion of the Survival tour, with the brass section of Glen DaCosta and Dave Madden adding an extra element to the live sound.
The County Bowl provides a beautiful backdrop for the show, which begins in early evening and intensifies as darkness falls. Physically, Marley is rather subdued throughout, with little evidence of his usual vivacity, but his interpretations of classics such as Ambush In The Night, I Shot The Sheriff and Zimbabwe show that his mind was still totally devoted to puttng on a great show, even this far into such an extensive tour, that must undoubtedly have taken a heavy toll on his energies.
One magical moment occurs as Bob sings acapella at the close of Crazy Baldhead, encouraging the band into a brief dubbed out reprise, clearly to the amusement of Rita, Judy and Junior. There is also a great performance of So Much Things To Say, a real rarity in any Marley set list, but particularly so long after it's last appearance on the 1977 tour.
Picture quality does vary from track to track, with the previously unseen tracks distinctly sharper than the others, although One Drop seems far poorer than the rest of the film. The sound quality is generally very clear, but it does deterioate for Is This Love. Another point to note is that the DVD has War/No More Trouble among the extras. The decision to segregate the track was taken because it is only filmed from one camera angle, and this is, therefore, understandable.
The Prophecies And Messages documentry, featured among the extras, is actually just a padded out version of the aftershow interview featuring Bob and Tyrone. Although this is very interesting, it would have been nice to just have had the interview without having to sit through repeated clips from the Santa Barbara show. Another extra are the comments of fans recorded at the Harlem Apollo, which reveal how highly regarded Bob was during his lifetime.
The DVD "booklet" is just a 4 page affair in typical Trojan style, with Chris Salewicz' liner notes presented in red, yellow and green print that is not easy on the eye. It also has to be said that this distressed, texture effect they seem to favour for nearly all their releases is becoming a little tiresome and unimaginative. The packaging could have been far more attractive.
A few gripes aside, this release is a must for any Marley fan. A much treasured opportunity to witness a true giant of the 20th century . Now it's over to Island to deliver the goods with a DVD issue of the 1977 Rainbow film.
CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU
On 28th October, BBC television aired a 30 minute documentry on the legal wrangles surrounding Bob Marley's estate as part of heir Can't Take It With You series. The following article is taken from programme guide TV Times
ONE LOVE, 11 KIDS AND NO WILL
When he died in 1981, king of reggae, Bob Marley, left a catalogue of inspirational songs - and 11 children by eight different women. He did not leave a will, though, which sparked a scrap between his wife and the other mothers...
The thing Bob Marley cared about least was money. Music was his first love, and he enjoyed a string of hits in the seventies, including No Woman No Cry, Exodus, Waiting In Vain and Is This Love.
Success, though, made Marley a rich man. But as a fervent anti-capitalist, he opened the doors of his Jamaican home to the needy. "He was like a king" says photographer Dennis Morris. "People would come to him and were looked after - he fed and clothed half of Jamaica."
In line with his laid-back Rastafarian ideals, when Marley died, aged 36, from cancer, he left no instruction on how to split his $30million (almost £18million) fortune. Thus, Jamaican law decreed that Rita, Marley's wife and mother of four of his children, would receive 55 per cent, with the remaining 45 per cent divided among his seven other children.
Yet, days after his death, Marley's lawyerproduced documents stating that three years earlier, Marley had signed over 98 per cent of his fortune to Rita. The other mothers- including Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976 - were incredulous. "Rita's children were living very well" says investigating attorney Arthur Kitchin, "but some mothers were forced to go on welfare. They were very angry."
Also clobberedby the deal was Marley's mother, Cedella, who was in danger of losing her home in Miami, Florida, which Bob had bought for her in his name.
However, it turned out that the documents transferring Marley's assets had, in fact, been forged. The case wentto court, and while Rita was acquitted of fraud, her advisors were prosecutedfor engineering the claim.
Control of the estate passed to a bank, who, in 1995, sold it to Chris Blackwell, the man who had discovered Marley and produced his records.
Blackwell ensured a happy ending to the saga by splitting the fortune- by then worthover $100million(£60million)-between Marley's 11 children.
Ian Bradford (TV Times magazine 25-31 October 2003)
Although Ian Bradford concludes his article by stating that Chris Blackwell "ensured a happy ending", this is not entirely the case. As seen toward the end of the BBC documentry, bass player Aston Familyman Barrett is still pursuing his legal case against the Marley estate for non payment on royalties since 1994 -an action that looks set to go to court in London next year.
In general, the programme did a good job of covering this complex subject in such a short time, especially when considering that a large portion of the first half was given over to biographical details. Arthur Kitchin made a good interviewee, and Bob's sons Stephen and Rohan also contributed information and opinions.
Unfortunately, Rita Marley declined to contribute to the show, an action that ultimately worked against her representation, and left a slight imbalance. Overall though, this was an intriguing and well paced 30 minutes, that offered a window on a rarely discussed chapter in the Marley legend.
On Thursday 6th November, Judy Mowatt appeared on the Ranking Miss P show alongside Chevelle Franklin. During the interview she spoke of her conversion to Christianity, stating "It was a journey, but I always say that the Lord had his hand on me long ago, from I was a child. When I realise the impression that God made on my life, and see how often I could have died, and the things that God has spared me from, I realise that God had his hand on me then. "
Judy's conversion from Rastafarian to Christianity raised a lot of eyebrows, but she explained she has no misgivings over her past "Life is a journey, and has many chapters, God changes the pages when He chooses to. My Rastafarian life was a life of no regrets. I really give thanks for the learning experience that I had. I give thanks for my brothers and my sisters that I love dearly, who embraced me and supported me. But then, there came a time when God said it was time for me to step into the Kingdom."
JOE STRUMMER MARLEY
A new Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros single is released on December 15th. Taken from the album Streetcore, Redemption Song is a cover of the Bob Marley classic, backed by album track Arms Aloft. The single also has versions of Armageddon Time, Junco Partner and Pressure Drop recordedat the Brixton Academy.
LAWYER IN TROUBLE FOR SINGING
MONTREAL (Reuters) - The lawyer for a man convicted of shooting and killing a policeman apologized on Monday for singing the Bob Marley hit I Shot The Sheriff as he was leaving the courtroom.
Despite the apology, the Quebec Law Society has opened an disciplinary investigation against defense lawyer Christian Gauthier, while the Montreal police union is planning to make a formal complaint.
"I'm sincerely sorry to know today that family members (of the victim) and policemen heard me," Gauthier told Radio-Canada television.
"If I hurt them, if I added to their plight, I'm sincerely sorry. I didn't think about it, and if I had, I wouldn't have sang," he said.
Gauthier was leaving the courthouse during a break in the murder trial of his client, Stephane Boucher, last week when his rendition of I Shot The Sheriff, a cut on Marley's 1973 album Burnin,' was heard by reporters and police.
"I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense," the lawyer sang while pacing a corridor.
"It's the story of my client," he replied when a journalist warned him that his performance had been caught on tape.
His client was later sentenced to 25 years in jail for shooting and killing policeman Benoit L'Ecuyer on a busy Montreal highway in February last year. Boucher said he killed the officer in defense after being shot at while trying to escape.
Disciplinary action against the lawyer could range from a fine to disbarment.
Number 26, August/September 2003
Number 25, July 2003 Number 24, June 2003
Number 23, May 2003 Number 22, April 2003
Number 21, March 2003 Number 20, February 2003
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