Bob Marley Albums Ranked

Robert Nesta Marley, OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by fusing elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, as well as his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Marley’s contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide and made him a global figure in popular culture for over a decade. Over the course of his career, Marley became known as a Rastafari icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is also considered a global symbol of Jamaican music and culture and identity, and was controversial in his outspoken support for the legalization of marijuana, while he also advocated for Pan-Africanism. Here are all of Bob Marley’s albums ranked.

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10. Survival (1979)

“Survival starts to feel a little like a concept album; from that initial bummer of hopelessness, the album eventually opens up.  The lyrics to “Top Rankin” start with more defeatism, speaking out on the colonial forces working to keep Africa at war, but later talks about feeling brotherly love.  By “Babylon System”, it has become defiant, and “Survival” makes that switch explicit.”

9. Rastaman Vibration (1976)

“Just before Bob Marley broke through to become a megastar, he released Rastaman Vibration. It’s an LP without disappointments (band, songs and Bob Marley in great shape). There’s still a strong Roots feeling about it. It’s useless to pick out any tracks. This record is best listened to in a certain elevated condition, when you can’t be bothered to pick songs – it was bad enough you had to get up and turn the record over.”

8. Live! (1975)

“The band’s best album. This album does correctly what made all the other studio albums so boring for me, at least. It does something different in every track. Yeah it ain’t a masterpiece, but it is damn entertaining. All the tracks here are better than in the studio versions and I loved how energetic it sounds. It has a really uplifting and energetic tone that really makes you wanna stand up and dance.”

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7. Kaya (1978)

“”Kaya” is Bob’s paean to that herb essential to the spiritual life of the Rastafarians.  “Sun Is Shining” is an intense tune made to be listened to very LOUD, with the bass turned all the way UP.  “Is This Love” is probably Bob’s greatest love song (along with “Waiting In Vain”).  “Time Will Tell” has one of the greatest, yet most simple messages ever in a song, the title of the track can probably give that away.”

6. Burnin’ (1973)

“Burnin’ is bit rougher, rawer, and funkier than Catch a Fire, it’s more aggressive, more militant, and more political and also, a lot more religious. More than any other album by them, Burnin’ perfectly encapsulates the Rastafarian religious worldview of Bob Marley and his band mates (the string of remakes in the center of the album are among it’s most explicitly religious, with Put It On being the most preachy, as it’s a hypnotic hymn of praise to God, which normally I wouldn’t like, but I fine so immensely hypnotic and listenable in this case) In at least a few cases, Rastafarian belief and social justice action go hand in hand (Rastafari’s have long been an oppressed minority in Jamaica).”

5. Natty Dread (1974)

“Every Bob Marley album is somewhat happy, but this is uplifting in an unorthodox manner, though melancholy. It shows respect for the listener and give something real, something that doesn’t stick with the past, and shows an optimistic future, a reason to cry of gratitude and keep on going.”

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4. Uprising (1980)

“One of Marley’s best albums, Uprising is extremely consistent from start to finish.  This doesn’t have as many hits as Exodus and it doesn’t get as deep as Natty Dread but every single track is strong – incredibly consistent songwriting and the band is as good as any Marley ever had.”

3. Catch A Fire (1973)

“CATCH A FIRE was the culmination of years of hard work were The Wailers took an island genre, honed it’s sound & message, into a reflection of the injustices and hardships they were experiencing in Jamaica & other island nations & made it mainstream. Reggae as a particular genre of music now generates billions of dollars worldwide and The Wailers are one of the primary reasons why. I think one of the most underappreciated things about this band is it’s musicianship.”

2. Legend (1984)

“This album is a fitting tribute to the man, his band, message and life. The world was truly blessed to have experienced the music of Bob Marley and The Wailers. We will never see anything like them again and I am so happy that I was alive to experience the magic of their music, message and the affect it had on many lives worldwide. They truly changed more that just music, they changed the way many thought and their songs gave strength, hope and fire to many an oppressed people to, as the song says, GET UP, STAND UP!”

1. Exodus (1977)

“EXODUS is an album that completely defines not only an artist/band but the generation in which it/they grew up in, the album was recorded and subsequently released. Bob Marley and The Wailers were truly a pop, mainstream phenomena unlike any other by the time this wonderful album was released in 1977 as has been stated and documented countless times. The world was not only fascinated by the Rastafarian beliefs but the revolutionary principals of Reggae. The 1960’s & 1970’s were truly times of revolution on a worldwide scale & NO band or group of artists signified this better than The Wailers.”