There are other greatest hits or complilation albums on this list, but making Marley’s lone reggae selection a greatest hits—not to mention a greatest hits that’s been co-opted by America’s fraternity brothers in their endless struggle against oppressive deans—may strike some as dilletantism. Or an even worse kind of ism. Here’s why it’s not: Marley made some very good albums, (Burnin’, Natty Dreads) but none of them capture the complete Marley as well as this expertly curated posthumous set. The live version of “No Woman No Cry” from a July 1975 concert in London has more humor, warmth and sex appeal than the original. “Is This Love” shows off his ability to make polyrhythm into melody, “I Shot the Sheriff” his gift for politics, and “Redemption Song” hints at the depths of his spirituality. It’s the rare best of’ that really is an artist at his best.
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