Ziggy Marley’s sixth, self-titled studio album was scheduled for worldwide release on May 20th 2016, but since, ahem… RED EYE RECORDS IN SYDNEY AUSTRALIA like to break the rules, the album was purchased exactly one week before its official Australian release date. As such, it was on heavy rotation the whole entire week after it was purchased. Like Eddie Murphy in “Delirious,” it made this reviewer start chanting: “I’ve got some Ziggy, you didn’t get none, you didn’t get none, you can’t afford it.” Perhaps that was just the sheer excitement of owing a CD a week ahead of its official release date.
Interestingly, the track-listing differs between both the physical disc format and the iTunes download edition. Seeing as how it’s the latter that flows better, this is the order that the album will be reviewed in, but the differences in track-listings will still be acknowledged. By the way, what IS that he’s holding in between his fingers on the cover? Tsk, tsk, very naughty!:
1. Start It Up: Great opening number, which features Ziggy encouraging us all to rise up from the ashes, like a lion in the morning… was he referencing his brother, Julian? He wants us to start a revolution and change the world. Definitely an encouraging message. It’s a straight up reggae tune, but a little more modernised if you will. Track One on both the download & physical releases.
2. Better Together: The acapella vocals in the intro definitely create a nice segue between the first two songs on this album. As for “Better Together,” it has a few elements of Dancehall reggae, not in the way of any chanting, just in the way of the beat, at the 1:18 mark in particular. Lyrically it’s another message of unity from yet another Marley, we all have problems to overcome and we’re all watching the world from different angles, but it’s so much better when we’re together. This is the sixth song on the actual disc.
3. Amen: A sizzling roots, rock reggae jam that immediately jumped out at me when I was listening to the album for the very first time on my headphones. Lyrically, it’s another commentary on how messed up the world is: People are being killed, money is taking over people’s lives, but Ziggy is bringing forth something quite uplifting. Originally the song was going to be called “The Devil Will Pay.” And you can definitely hear the ANGER that he was originally feeling when he wrote this song. If there was any proof that this was Bob’s son, check out lines like, “I’m building bridges, I want the people to unite.” Ziggy was also interviewed by a TMZ type of “journalist” on YouTube and he named this song as one that was going to be included on the new project, which at the time he called “Hey Man.” Or maybe the interviewer misheard him.”Verily I say, I’m the first born son.” Well, Ziggy, so am I! Now there’s something that we both have in common. “Amen” Comes in as Track 4 on the CD.
4. Love Is A Rebel: Any song or style of music is up for personal interpretation and you could look at this song as either a meshing of World Music (African rhythms) and reggae, or Funk, the likes of which Ziggy has never really experimented with before in his career. The guitar is still skanking though, all the way through this cut. “And I let the seedlings grow.” Gee, I wonder what Ziggy is referring to. Apart from that, the title says it all, love is going to rebel against “too much drunks at the bar” and the fight against spiritual oppression. He says that but he seems to be all right with “Too much stoners” at his concerts. Track 9 on the CD.
5. Weekend’s Long: “Don’t check no check no luggage, just carry on.” In this particular writer’s opinion, that lyric is quite reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” which Bob not only referenced in “One Love,” but Ziggy himself later covered with his siblings in 1997. Essentially it’s just an uplifting message of hope, being set free, walking with your head held high. Although, going by the images shown in the lyric video, it seems as though the lyric: “Why you should grow and cultivate” is a thinly veiled ode to the legalisation of “D Ganja.” Overall quite a breezy type of tune, very catchy, too. Placed as the second song on the CD version.
6. Heaven Can’t Take It: Ziggy’s younger brother, Stephen joins him on this next one, which is quite a socially conscious tune about people killing one another, supposedly in the name of religion, peace and other things along those lines. Hence, Ziggy feels as though heaven can’t take it. He’s calling for us all to stand up against such things… and to stand up for the motherless and fatherless. “The world is just a mirror, take a look upon yourself.” Sounds like something that his father, Bob Marley might’ve said to him while growing up. Later in the song, the two brothers sing the chorus from their father’s song “Zion Train,” which gives the song a very spiritual type of feeling. It’s not necessarily what most people would call a reggae song, but who cares? The message is still there. Track 5 on the CD version.
7. Cecil: “Will you try to be loving, Cecil?” Who is Cecil? For that matter, who is Camille? Another woman who is also being name checked in this song. I don’t believe it’s Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille, whom Ziggy is singing about… or Prince’s alter ego from the ‘80s who also bears the same name. After so many listens, however, it still remains unclear as to whether or not this was written about two actual women, who by the way don’t exactly sound too pleasant, or if it was really just a metaphor for something else all together. Perhaps the overall state of the world. We don’t know such things as listeners, only the artist does. About halfway through this song, Ziggy tells this “woman” that they could “still be together bathing on the Caribbean sea.” For some reason, the melody of that part of the song was reminiscent of “Little Red Corvette” to this here listener. “Cecil” appears as Track 3 on the CD.
8. I’m Not Made Of Stone: One more slice of Funk from Mr Ziggy Marley, which comes in at Number 12 on the actual disc, thus concluding the entire set. “Sad, the things I see make me so sad and you wonder why I’m mad.” Funk is definitely a very interesting way for him to express such things, as is the lyric, “Cry, every drop is worth the pain, can’t have the crop without the rain.” He’s encouraging us not to fight amongst each other and that he’s not made of stone, which, presumably would be his way of saying he’s only a human being with feelings just like the rest of us. Come to think of it, “I’m Not Made Of Stone” wouldn’t have been a bad title for this album…. or would that have been far too India Arie of him?
9. Marijuana Man: Ziggy released a comic book of the same name back in 2011 to coincide with his “Wild & Free” album, so for all we know, this song was left over from around that period, it just didn’t fit onto an album until now. Apart from that, I just knew that a song like this one was going to come out of him eventually: “If politicians smoking herb, there would be peace around the world, instead of war and strife.” “Too much cow for the meat.” Yeah. Too much ganja for the Ziggy, me thinks. I mean, it’s not a bad song, I just can’t relate to it as a non-smoker. So, I’ll just move on. “Marijuana Man” is the tenth song on the CD. It’s listed as one whole word in the track listing, but that red line that comes up as you’re typing is so annoying, so we’ll separate the two words.
10. We Are More (Mi Amore): Much more of a pop tune with acoustic guitars and what have you. Seems to remind me of… what’s that Carly Simon song again about the hard rock cafe? I don’t know why my mind goes there whenever I hear this song. It does, however, drift off into reggae for a little while around the two minute mark, though. I’m not even going to try to analyse the lyrics, it’s not a bad song at all… definitely socially conscious as usual. Track 8 on the disc.
11. Butterflies: “She says I’m high, am I smoking so much kush….? Why I’m talking about these crazy things?” Good question. If I can try to make any sense of what Ziggy is saying, then this song seems to be another social commentary on things like bombs going off in certain parts of the world, the sky being polluted by it all, people shooting and killing each other. So, like… what does he mean by we can be butterflies? Probably that we can all float away like butterflies and rise above it all. That’s about as best as I can interpret this song. I’m probably way off the mark, but I didn’t write this song! “Butterflies” is Track 7 on the CD.
12. We Are The People: It’s such a shame that reggae is still a genre that the general public don’t really pay very much attention to. Especially songs like this one, which is clearly a scathing attack on politics. It’s not just a case of Ziggy telling us that we are all people, not animals like donkeys and elephants or objects like “labels for your stock.” Songs like this one and his brother Stephen’s song “Chase Dem,” should be blasted whenever there’s an election!! As you can see, this song concludes the download edition, but it comes in at Track 11 on the actual disc.
Verdict: If you look at most artists out there, you’ll notice that it’s usually their first or second album that they choose to self-title. Not so in the case of Ziggy Marley, he waited until his sixth solo album to do that! And considering he could’ve named this album after one of the songs that was featured on it, naming it after himself was a much better option, as he was much more involved in the making of this album. As for the finished product, it’s spiritual, it’s uplifting, at times it’s even quite dance orientated, but most importantly, it’s ZIGGY MARLEY!! ‘Nuff said!!!