Bob Marley & the Chineke! Orchestra
It must be difficult for the marketing execs of UMe to continually come up with fresh strategies to promote Bob Marley’s enduring and enduring library. In any case, the albums have already been remastered and enlarged, a definitive box set and other collections are available, the outtakes and vault live events are accessible, and the music has been remixed and twisted into every conceivable form. What possibly could be left?
The famous Chineke! Orchestra cellists proposed adding classical instruments to such tracks to improve them. It probably took the Marley family, who oversees his legacy, approximately five minutes to understand that this was a promising new channel for promoting the reggae icon’s back catalog. Cha-ching!
Thankfully, it was a wise choice to enlist the European Chineke! Orchestra. The group, founded in 2015 and consists of musicians from various ethnic backgrounds, is the first to only include performers of color in a traditional arrangement. Most of their discography also includes brand-new songs written by people of color, which puts the group in a strong and distinctive position.
It’s nothing new to add orchestration to pop, or in this case, pop-reggae. The idea has recently been used to describe musicians such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, and Yes, among others. One could kindly describe those outcomes as irregularly effective.
This is far superior.
The producers cleverly layer on the violins after using Marley’s original recordings with the Wailers. Naturally, some of the ten tunes benefit from this more than others. Beginning with “Exodus,” the scoring gives a sneak preview of the song’s riff even before Marley sings. The strings glide in and out as the song develops, accentuating certain passages, enhancing others, and occasionally adding more drama to a piece that already had plenty of it.
Nobody stayed up late picking out the music. There aren’t many surprises here between “Stir It Up,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Is This Love,” and “Get Up, Stand Up.” There are also a few less obvious choices, such as “Top Rankin'” and “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” The Chineke! Orchestra generally stays away from the exaggerated, sweet, and polished sound other ensembles have used in comparable ventures. Additionally, they take a backseat, allowing Marley’s music and band to steal the show on “Satisfy My Soul,” when the strings are hardly audible.
There are also high points.
Marley’s “Redemption Song” begins with a cello overture that is incredibly evocative, and the alternately throbbing and flowing strings that come next let the listener concentrate on the lyrics.
The improvements give the already captivating performance another angle because the original recording was so limited.
On “Top Rankin’,” the strings work wonderfully with the horns and the I-Threes vocals.
It’s unclear who this is specifically intended for, though.
It’s unlikely that individuals who, for whatever reason, weren’t previously interested in Marley’s music, will suddenly alter their thoughts after hearing these rejiggered renditions. Existing fans probably won’t like anyone meddling with Marley’s classics.
In spite of this, the Chineke! The Orchestra’s performance and creative adaptations of these Marley classics are worth hearing… at least once. Your results may differ.