Many years after his untimely death, Bob Marley is still putting out “new” records (just like Elvis and Tupac and, in the years to come, Michael Jackson.) B is for Bob takes some of Marley’s tunes and remixes and re-imagines them for a younger audience (Bob’s son Ziggy, the executive producer of this set, stated aim was to “give the youngest their very own Bob Marley record”.)
This sort of remix business can be problematic sometimes but not so in this case, B is for Bob is a charmer for children of all ages (my own maturity level can be brought into question but, that said, I enjoyed it immensely.) Ziggy Marley adds additional production to a lot of the tracks here aided and abetted by Takeshi Akimoto (acoustic and electric guitars) and Daniel K. Mandelman (piano and percussion.)
Some of the songs are stripped down to the put the focus squarely on Marley’s soulful vocals (and the equally effective backing vocals by the I-Threes) such as on the delicate, yes still evocative versions of “Three Little Birds” and “Redemption Song” that open the disc.
The Wailers’ irresistible reggae beat and throbbing horns) are not absent from the disc as evidenced by the churning “Wake Up and Live”, the gentle remix of “Satisfy my Soul”, and the loping “Lively Up Yourself” (featuring some nice guitar work.)
“Jamming” is stripped down to its vocals and then built back up with percussion and acoustic guitar which gives it a more intimate feel than the original.
A children’s chorus is added to a couple of tracks: the sprightly piano-driven “Bend Down Low” and the delightfully infectious “Small Axe”.
“Could You Be Loved” is presented in the original (and incredibly potent, incredibly danceable) mix while “Stir it Up” is given almost lullaby feel (albeit a lullaby with a groovy beat) with new guitar and grand piano parts.
The disc finishes off nicely with the soothing “High Tide or Low Tide”.
Is this an essential Bob Marley record? Nah. But just the same it’s sweet without being saccharine and you don’t have to be kid to appreciate and enjoy it (though hopefully some young folks will be introduced to Bob and the Wailers by the grand music here.)