On April 30, 1976 Bob Marley and the Wailers released Rastaman Vibration, the first of Marley's albums to reach the Top 10 in the Billboard 200 chart where it peaked at number 8, thanks in large part to the success of the album's US #51 single "Roots, Rock, Reggae".
It's always seemed odd to me that the album doesn't share the critical praise of the preceding albums Natty Dread and Live or the ones that immediately followed, Exodus and Kaya. That might be because this is the first Wailers album I ever owned, a cassette I found in a storage attic at my boarding school. The moment I first heard the crystal clear production, the synthesizers and the positive vibes of its opening cut, I was hooked. Rastaman Vibration was my introduction to reggae music and remains one of my ten desert island albums.
I've only recently learned that the wisdom of the lyrics I've been hearing in "War" comes from a speech by Ethiopian emperor Haile Salassie, believed by many Rastafarians to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.
Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
Everywhere is war
Me say war.
That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.
Not one of these album tracks appears on the best selling greatest hits collection, Legend. I envy every music fan that hasn't heard Rastaman Vibration, an album to be savored in its entirety.