Record Machine: Babylon By Bus by Bob Marley and The Wailers

I will not even remotely pretend to be an expert on reggae nor Bob Marley, but I’m still very happy to have Babylon By Bus in my record collection. This double live album is a perfect afternoon groove.

Bob Marley and The Wailers - Babylon By Bus

Released in 1978, the majority of the songs featured were recorded at The Pavillon de Paris over three nights in 1977. There are thirteen songs total, with most sides of each record having three songs each. One of the longest songs, “Is This Love,” is my favorite:

I’m willing and able,
So I throw my cards on your table
I wanna love you , I wanna love and treat,

love and treat you right
I wanna love you every day and every night
We’ll be together
with a roof right over our head
We’ll share the shelter of my single bed
We’ll share the same room, for Jah provide the bread
Is this love, is this love, is this love
Is this love that I’m feelin’?

According to Wikipedia (so, trust the accuracy however you like), “Is This Love” was not frequently performed on the Kaya tour, but was indeed performed in Paris.

It’s one of my very favorite love songs for its simplicity and sweetness. Treating a person right and wanting to spend all your time with them, even if it’s just doing everyday things? Well, that’s love indeed.

Another favorite is “Rebel Music (3 o’clock roadblock),” particularly because it’s still politically relevant today.

Take my soul
and suss, and suss me out
Check my life
if I am in doubt, I’m in doubt
3 o’clock roadblock
And I say, “Hey, Mr. Cop! Ain’t got no
Hey! Hey, Mr Cop
What ya sayin’ down there? Hey, Mr Cop
Ain’t got no birth certificate on me now…

What’s also interesting about this album is its packaging. The front cover picturing the titular bus has two cutouts where windows would go, allowing the inner sleeve photos to show through. Because it’s a double album, this gives one four different options for the cover. Those inner sleeves have a collection of live photos over an illustrated tour map. The back cover is the rear of the bus mixed with a tour-related collage. Credited for art direction and graphics is Neville Garrick, and it’s fantastic work.

Bob Marley and The Wailers - Babylon By Bus (back cover)

Overall, if I’m to have any Bob Marley album in my collection, I’m glad to have one that is a live album. Though I don’t listen to a lot of reggae, the times I enjoy it the most is when it’s outside the studio form. What’s your favorite Bob Marley song?

Bob Marley - Wailers - Babylon By Bus -inner sleevesSide I

Positive Vibration
Punky Reggae Party

Side II

Stir It Up
Rat Race
Concrete Jungle
Kinky Reggae

Bob Marley - Wailers - Babylon By Bus -inner sleeves 2Side III

Lively Up Yourself
Rebel Music (3 o’clock roadblock)
War / No More Trouble

Side IV

Is This Love

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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