Music DVD Review: Bob Marley - Uprising Live!

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Recorded live on June 13, 1980, less than a year before his premature death at age 36, a German stop on Bob Marley’s Uprising tour has been issued on DVD for the first time. Originally broadcast on Germany’s Rockpalast TV show, Uprising Live! offers the chance to see a complete concert by the reggae legend at what unfortunately turned out to be a very late stage in his career.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s DVD presents the nearly two-show with the opening four-song set by the I Threes (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths) intact. By the time Marley takes his place at the front of the seven-piece Wailers, the audience is primed. They of course had no way of knowing the historical significance of the show they were so clearly enjoying. The European tour of 1980 would prove to be the final one of Marley’s career. The initial treatment for the cancer that eventually claimed his life had already begun some three years ago. Based on the fully committed performance we see him deliver in Uprising Live!, no one could’ve suspected how gravely ill he would soon fall.

In addition to four selections from the then-current Uprising album (“Coming in from the Cold,” “Zion Train,” “Could You Be Loved,” “Redemption Song”), Marley performs impassioned versions of fan favorites including “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and “Exodus.” In retrospect, the knowledge that Marley was near the end of his life casts a deeply melancholic poignancy over the entire concert.

Eagle Rock’s DVD offers a solid image (this was the standard definition video era, of course, but the source tape was obviously in good shape). In addition to a 2.0 stereo mix, audio options include Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 (the latter being preferable). Ian McCann, editor of Record Collector magazine, penned the new liner essay included in the DVD booklet. Uprising Live! is also available as a DVD plus double-CD edition.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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