Field Maloney, whoever he is, says exactly what I've been thinking for a while now, ever since I bought the soundtrack to The Harder They Come on a whim one late spring day when I was feeling especially tropical: there's a lot more to reggae than hackysack, unkempt hair and water bongs. Not that Bob Marley is on that album, but I've discovered some of his earlier stuff since then and I've gained a whole new respect for him. One of my stations on Pandora is called "Sweet and Dandy". It's old-school reggae, the low-fi stuff from the early 60's where you can really hear the influence of church choirs and brass bands in the vocal harmonies and the lush instrumentation. To my amazement, Bob Marley sings some of it. "Dancing Shoes" just might be the most endearing love song ever, but it's brisk and crafty, with none of the ponderous sappiness of a lot of the songs on Legend.
Anyway, I'm way too groggy to do justice to this article, or the early Bob Marley. I'll probably wake up tomorrow and make a million edits to this entry. There are too many brilliant lines in the Slate article to quote them all, but here's one: "Listening to Legend to understand Marley is like reading Bridget Jones's Diary to get Jane Austen." Go read it. Read it and then go to iTunes and buy yourself something from Birth of a Legend. You'll be glad you did.