KAYA (40th Anniversary Remix)
Tuff Gong/Island Records/UMC
A Marvellous and Contemporary Celebration of an Inspirational Album.
To celebrate the original album KAYA’s 40th Birthday it is being re-released in a shiny package alongside a remix/re-imagining of all ten tracks by Marley’s son Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley and will be available as a 2 LP on 180 gram(Green!) Vinyl and a 2 CD package too; with Stephen’s re-mixes available as a stand-alone Download too.
I’ve been putting off listening to this for absolutely ages…..simply because I loved KAYA when it first came out and have great memories of listening to it late on many a Friday night after a heavy session on the beer; and I didn’t really want anything to diminish those lovely memories!
First of all, I’m not altogether sure time has been kind to Bob Marley’s albums, as they could be a tad more adventurous than his brilliantly edited singles and were probably ‘of their time’ and what a time we all had listening to them.
As I haven’t played KAYA for years; I’m just going to review Stephen’s Re-Mixes and re-imaginings as if it was a new all of it’s own rather than a compare and contrast……is that fair?
Easy Skanking gets the party started in low key manner with Bob sounding happy and relaxed as the I Threes provide some truly luscious harmonies in the background, while a guitarist and sax player take the song into something of a Miami Vice direction; which isn’t as bad as you might think it could be.
The title track KAYA follows and we are whisked away to a mystical Caribbean island as the singer wallows and dances in the ‘falling rain’ as he prays for a ‘higher love.’ Remember Reggae songs aren’t always to be taken literally; and especially in the case of Bob Marley they can have an exquisite poetic quality to them.
So far; so ‘middle of the road’ but the classic Is This Love which still comes in at #3 has had a delightfully subtle makeover that may…….I did say ‘may,’ actually be an improvement on the original! That may be sacrilegious to many; but honestly there’s a new found clarity to the chorus that will make it perfect for radio or party around your house.
Even when Stephen has tried to make ‘Dub versions’ of songs; with Sun Is Shining and Crisis being good examples; the added bass owes more to Mark King and Level 42 than it does King Tubby or Joe Gibbs! But that’s the cool thing about this album; it’s been made ‘commercial’ and arranged for a whole new and, dare I say it……a younger audience than those of us who grew up with the original.
Obviously after all those passing years my memory isn’t what it should be; so both Time Will Tell and especially Misty Morning have been wonderful surprises with the latter now sounding like it could and should have been a hit single; or at least Stephen’s version still could be!
Then of course there is Satisfy My Soul which is as good a song as Bob Marley ever recorded and this marvelous version is easily my Favourite Track here, with barely a cigarette paper’s width separating this from the original.
As I said earlier purists will hate this album; simply because it exists; but for a whole new generation (and even an older generation with simpler tastes) this is a marvelous gateway into Bob Marley’s majestic and inspirational canon of work other than his Greatest Hits.
Released 25th August 2018