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It’s hard to think about Bob Marley without thinking of smoking dodgy “cigarettes” and of sandy islands with palm trees on the beach. Even though it is the middle of winter as I write this all I have to do is shut my eyes, whack the heating up and imagine I am on a sun drenched island with a large cocktail in one hand and a straw hat on my head. Silverline already have a sizeable catalogue of music DVD titles and this is the first of the Silverline reviews.

Best of the Early Years, The
Album
This is an early Marley album (hence the title) and while slightly less refined than some of his later work, it is this raw sound that is charming. Not being a massive reggae advocate I do not have much in the way of Marley music (except of course Legend, which everyone has) and therefore I only recognised a couple of the tracks on this album. The first was Sun Is Shining which was sampled and re-mixed sometime in the nineties. It is a short track at a little over two minutes; nonetheless it is enjoyable to hear it again after all this time. Like the rest of this album, there is a lot of bass present. If “The Boyz” in their Escorts and Novas got hold of this to play in their cars, they would probably be in paradise. That is unless it destroys their sub woofers. Well, we can pray!

Best of the Early Years, The
Even though the songs were mixed into 5.1 surround, evidence of this is not present through the album. The rear speakers seem to have been mainly used for echo (particularly for vocals) which is a little disappointing however since it is not too loud its easy to just treat those tracks as 3.1 music. Other tracks which use the surround speakers more prominently such as the first track Soul Shakedown Party do a really good job with the drums and Wailers coming from all around. This track is one of the liveliest tracks on the album  and is a great way to start. It is just a shame some of the later tracks such as Try Me and Trench Town Rock make little useful application of the rear pair.

Some of the vocals and trumpets tend to grate a little however this just adds to the experience. It augments the raw and unconventional feeling that goes hand in hand with what for some, are truly inspiring lyrics. The album contains eighteen tracks in total which is very decent of Silverline since this could have been kept down to the standard twelve or so music albums tend to be released with these days, plus there are several special features which really add to the content.

Best of the Early Years, The
Extras
The first extra is a Photo Gallery which is a collection of around ten pictures of the man, the band and the backing singers over the years. While some are staged promotional shots, others are real life snippets from Marley’s life showing that he did normal things like reading a paper or playing table tennis in his spare time. The Linear Notes are a long and in depth look at Bob Marley’s life and his career which for the uneducated, are a decent read. As with seemingly all Silverline records there is a short set of notes explaining what a DVD-Audio disc actually is. I liked this feature – its not long, only a couple of pages but helps to tutor the masses. Another apparently standard Silverline extra feature is the speaker set up which explains briefly how the speakers should be placed around your room for listening to DVD-Audio, and then verifies each is the in correct place. Speaking from each in turn at the same volume allows you to make sure your set up is balanced for optimal listening. My only problem with this is that you cannot turn the speaker test on in a loop – to listen to the speaker test, you have to listen to the introduction each time. However it is a good idea to include extra material like these items as they take up little space and can be quite beneficial, especially the speaker set up feature. The disc is rounded off with a couple of pages of credits of the people that worked on the album. A shame there were no animated menus or other extras as while the presentation is solid enough, more could have been done here.

Best of the Early Years, The
Conclusion
A shame I didn’t get this album in the summer really, as it's cold outside now and this would be a great thing to listen to on the decking in a deck chair, with a large iced beverage as the sun goes down. It is relaxed, with a capital R. Some of the sound isn’t too great as the extra high quality of DVD-Audio exposes imperfections in the original recordings. The extra features are a little thin on the ground but with a couple of nice additions. I would have liked to see an interview included if possible to pep up the added feature content a little. A great summer album with some enthralling tracks on it definitely not to be missed by fans, and people thinking of dabbling should definitely try it out.


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