Having survived failed attempts of assassination, Exodus featured a rejuvenated Bob Marley who was seemingly just happy to still be alive. As a result, the mellow and reflective side of Marley set the tone, for better or worse. Whilst the laid-back energy of Exodus remained consistent, the content itself was divided into two halves. There’s certainly a parallel here — the nature of these split halves appropriately demonstrates the two sides of Bob Marley that he’s widely celebrated for; one of protest and demonstration, and the other of love, harmony and passion.
To tread such a range of ground in a single record shows the level of power and influence Bob Marley had during recording. It floats by too easily for my taste, and a small selection of the tracks seem a little flat today, but it’s easy to see why Exodus is considered to be Bob Marley’s best work.
7 out of 10
There’s a great deal to like about Exodus, but I don’t think the album’s overall quality matches up to its reputation. It has moments of quite profound Marley charm, but such peaks are matched by (very pleasant) plateaus. This is perhaps best represented by the disparity between the album’s two sides. “Exodus” aside, the first half is pretty formulaic. Now obviously one would do well to argue ‘formulaic’ is a vice in a genre like reggae, but Exodus reaches much higher peaks when it engages with a broader range of sounds and vocal deliveries.
The fact that all of the album’s hits are housed in its second side is not a coincidence. The contrast in vitality is night and day. Although one may quite reasonably argue such a contrast is reflective of the themes Bob Marley & the Wailers address over the course of the album, I don’t think that explains the first half being far less engaging. When I listen to Exodus I don’t hear a great album; I hear a good album with a handful of iconic songs. It feels slightly blasphemous giving it this score, but I cannot justify a higher one.
7 out of 10
Exodus is seen by many as a classic album of the 20th century, from an artist who played a major role in bringing reggae to a worldwide audience. Given that, the album has high praise and expectation to live up to.
The signature rocking rhythm is definitely a quality I enjoy, but I found it sometimes led to tracks passing me by. As the album progresses, however, more variety can be found. The backing vocals, in particular, making some notable contributions to tracks, providing interesting harmonies in “Turn Your Lights Down Low” and making for a powerful chant towards the end of Exodus. While it’s a landmark album for many, I found it simply didn’t hit all the right notes with me, with some tracks not registering as different from the last.
The three tracks which are now seen as Bob Marley classics are the tracks that stand out and make this album a good album. Aside from those, I’m unsure how much of Exodus I will return to.
6 out of 10