Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey: #983 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey

Why is Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Head bobbing roots reggae with intense, consciousness-raising lyrics.

What does Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

The self-titled song, “Marcus Garvey,” is a roots reggae masterpiece. The hook is as strong as any that have ever come out of rock n’ roll or other musical forms. It compels a head bob of appreciation. And then the soothing, soaring, harmonizing background vocals take it to another level.

“Slavery Days” has a spiritual quality and more relaxed yet still compelling roots reggae beat.

“The Invasion” has a mellower vibe, and I realized that music that I became enamored with while traveling in New Zealand – from the likes of the The Black Seeds, Katchafire, and Fat’s Freddy’s Drop – are as influenced by Burning Spear as they are by Bob Marley.

Here’s a Fat Freddy’s Drop song to give you some flavor.  

And then “Red, Gold and Green” shows off some nice range, leaning into dub influences.

This album also sounds like

There are many “right” answers here, I’m sure, but for my ear I’m going with The Ethiopians, Toots & the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, with a side of Jimmy Cliff. And then, as mentioned above, there’s a hint of sounds that would come decades later from New Zealand bands such as The Black Seeds, Katchafire, and Fat Freddy’s Drop.

Other stuff that’s somehow related to Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey

Obviously, there are some pretty heavy themes being dropped on Marcus Garvey, and I want to note that fact and treat it with respect.

If you’ve been following along with this best 1,000 albums ever, you’ll note that I don’t bring up song lyrics all that often. That’s because I’m not really a “lyrics guy,” truth be told. If I really like a song, I’ll listen to it over and over before really starting to think about the lyrical content. For me, music is much more about attitude and sound and vibe, but at its best the lyrics map to the attitude and sound and vibe perfectly and create something even great than the sum of its parts.

Because Marcus Garvey the album has a brilliant song on it called “Marcus Garvey” and then another pretty good song called “Old Marcus Garvey,” that compelled me to find out who Garvey was, as I had no idea before getting into this album. So good on Burning Spear for leveraging the power of music to help spread enlightenment and knowledge across the decades for doing that alone.

Turns out that Garvey lived a pretty amazing and fairly controversial life. It’s not easy to even try to summarize beyond that, so I’ll link you over to his Wikipedia page if you’re interested in learning more.

Some stats & info about Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Reggae, Roots Reggae, Dub, Jamaican Music   
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating5 out of 5 stars!
  • When was Marcus Garvey released? 1975
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #983 out of 1,000

Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.