Got to have Kaya, now...

Nov 12, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Full of Bob's most sentimental music.

Cons:Lacking in the kind of political genius found on Survival.

The Bottom Line: Kaya is everything a good album should be: fun, emotional, catchy, deep. As usual, Bob doesn't mess around.


Kaya, released in 1978, is Bob Marley's least political album; practically the polar opposite of his 1979 release, Survival. Fans who I've talked to tend to either love Kaya, and consider it one of their favorites, or really can't stand it, complaining that it lacks the kind of politically brilliant material found on Survival or Natty Dread.

Politically weak or not, Kaya is a masterpiece. The album focuses on beautifully simple themes: love, life, herb, and sadness.

Track Listing:

1. EASY SKANKING
2. KAYA
3. IS THIS LOVE *
4. SUN IS SHINING
5. SATISFY MY SOUL *
6. SHE'S GONE
7. MISTY MORNING
8. CRISIS
9. RUNNING AWAY
10. TIME WILL TELL

* Appears on Legend (1984)

BONUS TRACK (Re-master only):
11. Smile Jamaica

Easy Skanking starts off with Bob announcing his intentions to the world. A wonderful song about smoking and feeling good, which segues wonderfully into Kaya. As is the case with many of the Wailers' music, Kaya was originally released as a single, with several different versions released under different names. The most prominent earlier version of Kaya is titled Turn Me Loose, and can be found on the second disc of Trojan's double-disc In Memoriam: 1969-1972 set.

Following the two ganja anthems is the most well-known track on the album, Is This Love. Is This Love is the first track on Legend, giving it more exposure to the world than just about any other of Bob's songs. No matter how many times it gets played, Is This Love remains a beautifully sentimental song with simple yet amazing words: I wanna love you / I wanna love and treat you / Love and treat you right.

Sun is Shining is certainly one of the most unique tracks on the album in that it has an eerie, haunting sound unparalleled by any other song. A very good song that I believe is probably skipped by many, considering the two songs it's between. Sun is Shining was previously released as a single, and the original version can also be found on disc two of Trojan's In Memoriam: 1969-1972

Sun is Shining is followed up by Satisfy my Soul, another Wailers' tune with many earlier and obscured versions. Don't Rock My Boat, the most common version, can also be found on In Memoriam. Although I do enjoy Satisfy my Soul, I think Is This Love is so good that it turns Satisfy My Soul into just "the other love song on Kaya."

I have a copy of Kaya on vinyl, and side two of the album begins with She's Gone, a melancholy song with a hint of the blues. She's Gone launches the album into a more intense emotional mood, immediately followed up by Misty Morning, which has a riff somewhat similar to that of Jamming, off Exodus (1975). It's impossible to do justice to Misty Morning by writing about it; to fully grasp the power of this song, you have to listen to it.

Crisis follows, in a sense giving Kaya a plot which climaxes with Running Away: You're running, and you're running, and you're running away, You're running, and you're running, and you're running away, You're running and you're running, but you can't run away from yourself.

The album floats back down to reality with Time Will Tell, a melodically well put-together acoustic tune.

Kaya has special significance for me. It brings me back to a time of happiness and freedom in my life, a time when I was still discovering much of Bob's music, and specifically was listening to Kaya alot. However, I still feel that it's a great album that anyone could enjoy, but in the end it's up to the listener to give it a chance.

Many people write off Bob Marley's music or "take it with a grain of salt", ignorantly using labels like "pothead" or "pinko." That's fine. Historically, great artists and their work have only been appreciated by a small group of people, sometimes crossing the threshold into mainstream popularity, sometimes not. Those who choose to keep themselves ignorant simply do not deserve to enjoy art.


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