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The Wailers, Burnin' (1973)

The second album and last to feature the original Wailers vocal trio of Marley, Tosh and Livingston has strong, heavy bass sounds and lovely vocal harmonies. Classics on this album are: "Get up, Stand up" and "I Shot the Sheriff." Probably the most "Jamaican-sounding" of Marley's Island Records releases.

The Wailers, Catch A Fire (1973)

Catch A Fire was the Wailers' Island Records debut, the carefully constructed that album that first really broke reggae music to international audiences. "Concrete Jungle" was the leadoff track. We highly recommend checking out the 2001 Island deluxe-edition reissue, which includes both the famous version of the album released globally in 1973 and a rare version of the original Jamaican mixes of the songs. Listening to the two versions of the album back-to-back offers a brilliant chance to see how producer Chris Blackwell's production changed the music in order to make it more internationally successful.

Bob Marley and The Wailers, Natty Dread (1974)

Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer split from The Wailers, only to be replaced by the I-Threes—a female vocal backing trio featuring Marley's wife Rita, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt. Natty Dread was released shortly after the new band formation took shape and proved that Marley didn't really need Peter or Bunny to continue his success.

Bob Marley and The Wailers, Exodus (1977)

After an attempted assassination attempt on Marley in December of 1976, the band went into exile in London and produced this album, which was later voted the most important album of the 20th century by Time magazine. This album includes the major hits "Jamming, " "Exodus," "One Love," and "Three Little Birds."

Bob Marley and The Wailers, Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and The Wailers (1984)

This compilation album was released three years after Bob Marley died from cancer in 1981. True Wailers fans can get a bit snobby about this greatest-hits package (which is seemingly given out to every college freshman in America during fall orientation), but the tracks here are all timeless classics. The song selection does seem to emphasize Marley's softer lovesongs over his more militant social-political tunes, however. Legend has slowly and steadily become one of the top-selling music albums, in any genre, of all time. If you only own one reggae album, this is almost certainly it.

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