Bob Marley & the Wailers – Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980

January 01, 1970



30 years after his death, Bob Marley remains one of the most iconic
musicians of all time. The problem is that he’s often seen as more icon than
musician. So it’s nice anytime a new release puts the focus less on the college
dorm poster of Marley with a spliff and more on the incredible songwriter and
performer that he was. Live Forever does exactly that, while also serving as a historical document of Marley’s last


Recorded a few days after Marley collapsed while jogging in New York’s Central Park
and learned he had life-threatening cancer, the concert almost didn’t happen,
as the album’s detailed liner notes explain. Although Marley wasn’t feeling his
best, he went ahead with the show and performed like a man who knew he didn’t
have much time left.


As good as his studio work is, Marley was always at his best onstage.
Look no further than the absolutely essential Babylon By Bus if you need proof. Recorded two
years after that masterpiece, Live
, is an equally important piece of the Marley catalog and serves as
a great complement. Where Babylon captures various performances from Marley’s 1978 European tour, Live Forever offers one full concert,
giving a sense of what it was like to spend a night in the presence of his genius.
It also shows all facets of Marley, including the rough edges that have been
sanded down over the years.  


The Marley we get here is alternately angry (“Burnin’ and Lootin’,” “Crazy
Baldhead”), peaceful (“No More Trouble” ), confused (“Is this Love”) and tender
(“No Woman No Cry”). The set ends with the anthemic “Get Up Stand Up”, which includes
a lengthy call-and-response with the audience, a poignant demonstration of
Marley’s connection with his fans. Offering excellent sound until the last few
songs, when it trails off dramatically, Live
is a portrait of a performer at the top of his game who was taken
away far too soon.


 DOWNLOAD: “Them Belly Full,” “Exodus,” “Redemption Song” HAL


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