I am on record as stating that I think Peter Tosh’s departure from the Wailers was not good for the Wailers. Tosh is, to me, the better songwriter. (Shock! Horror!) Not melodically, necessarily. (Really, I should say “of course”. Who has more hits, Marley or Tosh?)
But really, lyrically, I don’t know if it’s close. Marley is obsessed with certain things. His great melodies make those things accessible to the masses – and being obsessed with sex (on earlier records) is hardly a thing that turns the masses off – but I have a hard time relating to him and not only because I never been particularly into songs about sex. I am an agnostic who most people thing is an atheist. Songs about religion need to work for me in other ways.
As you may know, on this album Marley has gone pretty much full religion. (And that has some kind of import for people given what happened to him not that long after.) So I once again struggle with Marley as a songwriter. The songs I like which are about religion are often more intellectual and, of course, that’s not Marley’s approach at all. He was very much a person who felt things, and that’s why he remains so popular now. But they mostly don’t work for me.
But “Redemption Song” is here. And if you listen to an expanded edition, you get to hear the how they made a great decision using the solo acoustic version than the band version. It makes me wonder if I would like more of Marley’s songs if he performed them this way. I’ll likely never know.
As to the sound of the record, it works. I cannot criticize the Wailers for their performances and generally like the vibe on most, if not all, of their records. This is a band that is pretty well produced, in my opinion, and one I would like more if I liked their songwriter. (I like the earlier Wailers records with three songwriters better than the Marley ones, it should come as no surprise.)
I prefer their earlier music.