Bob Marley & The Wailers

Songs of Freedom [Box]

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Originally released as a limited-edition box set in 1992, Songs of Freedom presents an alternate history of Bob Marley's career, tracing his progression with outtakes, rare singles, alternate mixes, live tracks, and album tracks instead of the songs that formed the bulk of his legacy, as it were. The question is, is this a reasonable track to take? For the most part, yes it is, even if it tends to be a little misleading. That problem isn't too great, since Songs of Freedom isn't targeted at the audience that would want just the basics -- Legend already exists for them, and that sums up everything they need to know about Marley, the ambassador of reggae. The remainder of Marley's audience realizes this box exists just to get rarities to the diehards, and they're thrilled that it exists for that purpose. Because of its nature, Songs of Freedom isn't especially compelling to anyone that isn't a hardcore fan -- although the first disc of ska and rocksteady material will be delightful to anyone that likes early reggae and isn't thrilled by Marley's rock-star posturing in the '70s -- but for those very fans, it's a valuable addition to their collection, since it rounds up rarities with ease and purpose. What Songs of Freedom should not be seen as is a definitive overview of Marley's career -- it's just for collectors and hardcore fans, the kind of listener who has memorized the original studio albums. For those listeners, it's hard to resist Songs of Freedom, but everybody else will be able to safely pass it by. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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