On the record

 

JIM CARROLLon music

One-off Marley still dominates 30 years after death

Everywhere you go in Jamaica, two icons dominate the landscape. There’s Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world and would-be Tipperary hurler (search for “Usain” and “Tipperary” on Youtube if you don’t believe us), and there’s Bob Marley, the musician who put Jamaican music on the world stage and who died 30 years ago this week.

Three decades on, Marley is still a ubiquitous figure on the island’s cultural map. Most attempts to deconstruct his continued dominance focus on how he’s painted as reggae’s Che Guevara, the ultimate romantic rebel, dreadlocked Rasta and buffalo soldier who has become handy shorthand for an idealised form of non- compliance with The Man.

But beyond the marketing and branding there’s the music, and Marley’s songs still blare out of shops, bars, cars and vans all the way from Kingston to Montego Bay. They’re as iconic as the Marley murals you’ll find everywhere on the island.

Of course, there are several different musical Marleys to consider. While the multi-million selling Legendcollates the big hits which took Marley from Trenchtown to the world, earlier albums such as Catch a Fireand Natty Dreadshow deeper, more political and more personal sides to his creative palette.

Marley was a complex, smart musical figure who was really only finding his feet on the world stage when he died.

Reggae continues to produce a new crop of stars every year, though none shine as brightly as Marley did in his prime. Indeed, even if they were writing anthems like Could You Be Lovedor Three Little Birds, these newcomers are unlikely to ever emulate his success because of how the music business has changed. We don’t get iconic stars on the same scale as Marley any more. He was a one-off and that’s why he’s still celebrated home and away.

New Music

EATEN BY BEARS

Belfast-based trio Olan Stephens, Aidan Kelly and James Pollock came together during a workshop at Queen’s University and have been pushing “mathy, dancy, floaty, shouty, riffy and noisy” tunes such as Vanderhoofand Spite Housessince. eatenbybears. bandcamp.com

AGITATE THE GRAVEL

Cork four-piece who’ve been pursuing blissful shoegaze-pop with a ton of gigs in the southern capital over the past few months and winning new friends as they go with promising tunes such as Intervaland the excellent Wilderness Years. breakingtunes.com/ agitatethegravel

THE ALPACA JAMBOREE Old-school Scottish, Irish, English and American folk songs have been given a fresh take by the Dublin-based duo Sam Doyle and Alex Calder, who go about their task with simple, sweet and fuss-free harmonising. facebook.com/ thealpacajamboree

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