Bob Marley has been gone now for almost as many years as he lived, and his legend seems to grow all the more mythic and symbolically universal with the increscent distance from his 1981 death. At the same time, though, his most polarizing tendencies — impulses that not only informed his artistry but his very identity as well — seem to fade further and further in distinction.
That contrast, between Marley as he actually was and the saccharine “One Love” icon that often characterizes his image today is brought into potent focus on this newly released live DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment.
While the reggae superstar leads the Wailers through some familiar songs like “Jamming” and “I Shot the Sheriff, he devotes the majority of the performance — recorded on June 13, 1980 at Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle while on tour in support of his just released LP, Uprising, it was later broadcast on the German television series, Rockpalast — to far more provocative fare. Whether extolling his Rastafarian faith and culture with such songs as “Natty Dread” and “Positive Vibration” to venturing into decidedly sociopolitical territory with the likes of “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Revolution,” Marley is a proudly defiant ambassador of his own values and a riveting musical force on the live stage.
Indeed, as becomes obvious and indisputable throughout this performance, Marley was incendiary to the end.