Sunday, July 29, 2012


Film – Marley
Event - New Zealand International Film Festival 2012
Venue - The Embassy Theatre, Wellington
Date – Saturday 28
th July 2012

On Saturday night, I attended a showing of the new Marley documentary ( as part of the annual Film Festival.

I'm a huge reggae fan (and sometime reggae DJ) whom has sometimes confounded people whom request that I play them Bob Marley material by admitting that I actually (until very recently) didn't own any.

Whilst Bob Marley's 1970's European album orientated material for Island Records (the "Catch A Fire" and "Exodus" LP's and the "Legend" compilation) seems to have been a route into reggae fandom for a lot of people, I went in via ragga and dancehall through jungle, so sort of missed Bob Marley out of the equation.

The documentary was directed by Kevin MacDonald (best known for the acclaimed "Last King Of Scotland", but has previous 'rockumentary' form for making, "Being Mick" - and is incredibly well put together.

Whilst there's clear ups and downs to the story - there's nothing too controversial in the narrative (understandable when the executive producers include Bunny Wailer, Island Records' Chris Blackwell and Ziggy Marley). Much like The Wailers later line-ups, the film features a cast of thousands, sharing reminiscences and experiences of Bob.

The film's soundtrack was released the day before it hit cinemas and is notable for being the first time that the audio recording of "Jamming" from the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston has been commercially available. The version provided the audio backdrop to Marley (whom had been shot during an assassination attempt just days previously) inviting Prime Ministerial candidates Michael Manley (PNP) and Edward Seaga (JLP) onto the stage to shake hands. (In the weeks running up to the event, followers of each party had put the country onto the verge of civil war, with gun battles raging on the streets of Trenchtown). The incident provides a similar crescendo to the documentary.

I've seen photo's of the event before and understood some of the background but can comfortably say that it was a tear jerking moment to watch in its entirety.

Similarly emotional is the sad decline in Marley's health and the horrible pathos around his girlfriend, Cindy Breakspeare (Damian Marley's mother) talking about how she and Rita (Marley - Bob's wife) shaved off his dreadlocks (which had largely fallen out due to his chemotherapy) whilst he was in Hospital. (Early in the film, footage of a mid-seventies interview with Marley is shown where he describes his dreadlocks as "me (my) identity".

Regarding his later recorded material, a comment is made by one of his Kingston contemporaries  that The Wailers greatest material is a small number of sides made (after their departure from the tutelage of Coxsone Dodd's Studio1 organisation) with Lee 'Scratch' Perry.

I realised that I'd actually bought a 7" boxset of those sides about a year ago, but hadn't ever got round to listening to them.

Original versions of "Simmer Down", "Duppy Conqueror" and "Small Axe" are featured in the documentary and have graced my turntables today.

It appears from the strength of them that I've much to learn.

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