Redemption Song - Sly & Robbie & Dean Fraser

from the album Sly & Robbie Revisit Bob Marley (2017)

When Barack Obama was elected the President of the United States President in 2008, the music community celebrated in song.  Perhaps the best - and certainly my personal favorite - was Blackhouse (Paint The White House Black) by Amp Fiddler.  This record was produced by the incomparable Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.  Its laid-back, urban vibe is perfectly counterbalanced by the bouncing, confident groove and sultry backing vocals.  It is a masterpiece.

So now, in the final days of the Obama presidency, Sly & Robbie have released a record revisiting some of their takes on famous and obscure Bob Marley tunes.  For me, this makes a statement that Bob Marley - and his musical message of freedom, justice, hope, love, and dignity - will stand the test of time taller and more iconically than the most accomplished of men.

The track that leads off this record is Redemption Song, perhaps the most sacred in the Bob Marley songbook.  It is treated as an instrumental with the vocal line performed by saxophonist Dean Fraser, whose origins go back to playing with Bob Marley & The Wailers in 1978.  In his solo, you can hear - and feel - every word of the iconic lyrics.

It is a soulful, smooth jazz vibe overlaid with modern dancehall tones and sounds.  At first listen, the injection feels forced.  But then you realize that this counterbalance is really a tribute to this song that is classic yet always fresh, new, and essential.

Click Here to listen to Dean Fraser covering Redemption Song.

Click Here to listen to Bob Marley's recording of Redemption Song.

Click Here to listen to Amp Fiddler's Blackhouse (Paint The White House Black).