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Nov 13, 2017

Today's Guest: Richie Unterberger, author, Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Ultimate Illustrated History

Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of Kingston, Jamaica townies ready to pounce at the first slip of a Rastafarian accent from an overly enthusiastic white boy … in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!

I must admit that my knowledge of Bob Marley and The Wailers history is pretty limited. The Jamaican-born singer and his band rose to prominence while I was in a too-damn-white-for-our-own-good high school, and he died suddenly while I was in college, before my five-year run as a rock music critic in the mid-1980s.

RICHIE UNTERBERGER podcast excerpt: "A lot of people don't realize that Bob Marley and a lot of other reggae performers, (such as) Jimmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals, started with ska music. When they started making records, reggae was not a term. The term has only been applied since the early 1970s. Ska is much faster in tempo, and in rhythm, than reggae. As the music slowed sown, maybe it was a coincidence, but the subject matter became more serious."

I knew his hits – “I Shot The Sheriff, “No Woman No Cry,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “One Love/People Get Ready” and “Jamming” – most of which have since been co-opted by Madison Avenue for commercials. That said, it made me quite eager to learn more about what I didn’t know, which, thanks to author Richie Unterberger and his new book, Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Ultimate Illustrated History, is quite a lot. The book is packed with the requisite and little-known history of Marley and The Wailers, their discography, reviews of each Marley album, and the best part – for me at least – the ancedotes. Like Eric Clapton telling the story of the first time he spoke with Bob Marley, after the Brit covered “I Shot the Sheriff.” Or what happened to early Wailers record producer Leslie Kong.

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