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by Jason Gubbels

July 10, 2013

Bob Marley Remixed

by Jason Gubbels  |  July 10, 2013

Nearly 30 years after its initial release, Bob Marley's greatest hits compilation Legend remains the highest-selling reggae album of all time. And partly to mark the upcoming anniversary, Island/Tuff Gong opened up the vaults to welcome a disparate crew of studio tinkerers to remix and generally mess with the original masters. Marley's sons Ziggy and Stephen, Photek and Thievery Corporation.

Plenty of fans cry foul at these sort of after-the-fact shenanigans, but remixing Bob Marley is a tradition that's been around nearly as long as Marley himself. As was the custom in the early 1970s Jamaican music scene, local producers ransacked backing tracks of big hits and obscurities alike in the hopes of propelling their own "versions" up the charts or at least onto notable sound systems, and Marley was a favorite target -- check out the Upsetters' instrumental version of "African Herbsman" or Augustus Pablo's version of "Natty Dread" (he calls it "Mr. Big"). DJ toasters followed suit, and soon practitioners of dub were also drenching Marley tunes in reverb and echo (see Lee Perry's "Punky Reggae (dub)"). Flash forward to 1986, and artists like Shinehead were still turning to Marley hooks for their own hits.

And as this playlist demonstrates, remixing/beat culture outside Jamaica retains its Marley fascination, from producer Bill Laswell releasing an entire album of "ambient translations" of Marley dub tracks, to hip-hop artists Talib Kweli and The Notorious B.I.G. unsubtly lifting Marley elements for their own numbers. And did we mention how reggaeton producers have forcefully dragged Marley's roots music into sweat-drenched clubs? You'll find some of those cuts here, too. So, purists beware!

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