"Legend" is not a word to be thrown around lightly, but in Bob Marley's case, the description perfectly encapsulates the man's stature, both during his life and after it. Hence Legend, the title to his diamond-selling hits album is unusually accurate.
But as with most, er, legendary artists, the music only tells part of the story. It was on stage that Marley's natural mystic revealed itself, and those who saw him live typically remember the experience as life-altering.
It's tough to argue with that assessment, at least after watching this performance. Previously released on VHS, Bob Marley and the Wailers' electrifying June 1977 London show is finally available on DVD.
He is explosive on the gig, radiating Bono/Prince-like charisma and pulling out all of his stage tricks -- the outstretched arm, closed-eyes stance of so many memorable photos, marching with his guitar, howling with genuine intensity -- as the band's terse backing lights the fuse.
Touring behind the recently released Exodus album -- arguably the high point of his career -- with a stripped-down band augmented by the I-Three's vocal trio, Marley harnesses and tightens the loping rhythms of reggae by adding a shot of sinewy punk energy.
Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity to add additional footage, since the original show reportedly ran more than twice this DVD's frustratingly short hour-and-10-minute time.
Regardless, a taste of Marley in his prime is more fulfilling than a full meal of most other artists. Even a cursory glance at the revelatory version of "No Woman No Cry" is enough to convince any skeptic that Marley deserves every legendary accolade he gets.
Newcomers to the Marley magic should start here. A second disc features a detailed 90-minute documentary, Caribbean Nights: The Bob Marley Story, that recaps the icon's influential career with rare interviews and more live footage.