Exodus (Bob Marley & the Wailers album)

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Bob Marley and the Wailers - Exodus.png
Studio album by
Released 3 June 1977
Recorded Harry J. Studio, Kingston, Jamaica, 1976 and Island Studios, London, January–April 1977
Genre Reggae
Length 37:24
Producer Bob Marley and the Wailers
Bob Marley and the Wailers chronology
Rastaman Vibration

Exodus is the ninth studio album by Jamaican reggae band Bob Marley and the Wailers, first released 3 June 1977 through Island Records following Rastaman Vibration (1976).

On 3 December 1976, an assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley's life in which his chest was grazed and his arm was struck with a bullet, but he survived.[1] Following the assassination attempt Marley left Jamaica and was exiled to London where Exodus was recorded.[2]

Exodus is a reggae album, incorporating elements of blues, soul, British rock and funk. The album's production has been characterized as laid-back with pulsating bass beats and an emphasis on piano, trumpet and guitar. Unlike previous albums from the Wailers, Exodus thematically moves away from cryptic story-telling; instead it revolves around themes of change, religious politics, and sex. The album is split into two halves: the first half revolves around religious politics while the second half is focused on themes of sex and keeping faith.

The album was a success both critically and commercially; it received gold certifications in the US, UK and Canada, and was the album that propelled Marley to international stardom.[1] In 2017 Exodus was remastered and re-released for its 40th anniversary. Exodus has more tracks on Marley’s greatest hits album, Legend—the highest selling reggae album of all time—than any of his other records.[1]


In 1974, the Wailers disbanded with each of the three main members pursuing solo careers. Despite the break-up, Marley continued recording as "Bob Marley & The Wailers". His new backing band included brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett on drums and bass respectively, Al Anderson and Junior Marvin on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl "Wya" Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin "Seeco" Patterson on percussion. The "I Threes", consisting of Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley's wife, Rita, provided backing vocals. In 1975, Marley had his international breakthrough with his first hit outside Jamaica, "No Woman, No Cry", from the Natty Dread album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the United States, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which became the 48th best-selling album on the Billboard Soul Charts in 1978.[3]


In December 1976, Jamaica was going through elections, generating substantial political discourse. In his campaign, Prime Minister Michael Manley used the campaign slogan "We know where we're going." In response Marley wrote "Exodus", which is the title track of the album. The song became a No. 1 hit in Jamaica as well as the United Kingdom and Germany.[4]

On 3 December 1976, an attempt was made on Marley’s life. It was this attempt that drove him out of Jamaica. In addition to Marley's assassination attempt, "his wife Rita — one of the I Threes, whose singing on Exodus is first-rate"[5] was also shot and survived.


Exodus is a reggae album[2][6] which features a "laid-back" production, that contains a "stoned atmosphere that's simultaneously funky and political" according to Cam, an Emeritus from Sputnikmusic.[6]

Cam described the album's musical style as being "different," noting that Marley's style of reggae was not what was prominent in Jamaica during the time, and that the album's music sounds unlike any reggae that came before its release.[6] Emeritus continued to describe the album's sound as being rooted in the blues and soul, with elements of British Rock with a reggae "façade thrown on top" however Emeritus praised this saying "if Exodus was straight reggae, it probably wouldn't be as good as it is."[6]

Exodus contains elements of pulsating bass beats, pianos and funk along with a "liquid-y bass," drumming and guitars with the inclusion of trumpets in the title track.[6] Unlike previous albums Exodus lyrical content moves away from cryptic story-telling and instead is clearer and more straight forward, the lyrics touch upon themes of change, religious politics and sex. Vocally, Marley provides a minimalist approach, trying not to reach his falsettos.[6]

The album's track listing is split over two halves,[5] the first half features songs of religious politics and opens with Natural Mystic which is a slow tempo "fade up" song, followed by "So Much Things To Say" which was described by the BBC as being "exuberant" and features a reggae-scat.[1] The following two songs Guiltiness and The Heathen explore darker territory, before ending on the album's title track.[1] The second half of the album features songs revolving around sex and keeping faith.[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Billboard (favorable)[7]
Pitchfork Media (8.4/10)[8]
PopMatters (favorable)[9]
Robert Christgau B+[10]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[6]

Cam from Sputnikmusic gave the album five out of five stars, calling it a "classic". Emeritus praised the album's "laid-back tones" and commended Marley's vocals and lyrical content.[6] As described by Rolling Stone magazine, Exodus is an album with "the magnificent rhythm section of Aston Barrett, bass, and Carlton Barrett, drums, and the spidery lead guitar of Julian "Junior" Marvin — and the flatness of the material Bob Marley has given them to work with"[5]

"Jamming", "Waiting in Vain", "One Love/People Get Ready", and "Three Little Birds" were all major international hits. Exodus peaked at number 20 on the Billboard 200 and at number 15 on the Black Albums chart, as well as remaining in the UK charts for 56 consecutive weeks, where it peaked at number 8.

In 1999, Time magazine named Exodus the best album of the 20th century.[11] In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 26th greatest album of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 169 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[12]

Track listing

All tracks written by Bob Marley, unless noted.

1977 original release

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Natural Mystic" 3:28
2. "So Much Things to Say" 3:08
3. "Guiltiness" 3:19
4. "The Heathen" 2:32
5. "Exodus" 7:40
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Jamming"   3:31
7. "Waiting in Vain"   4:16
8. "Turn Your Lights Down Low"   3:39
9. "Three Little Birds"   3:00
10. "One Love/People Get Ready" Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield 2:52

2001 Deluxe Edition

Disc One

Bonus tracks
No. Title Length
11. "Roots" (b-side of "Waiting in Vain", released 19 August 1977) 3:42
12. "Waiting in Vain (alternative version)" (previously unreleased) 4:43
13. "Jamming (long version)" (12" single, released 11 November 1977) 5:52
14. "Jamming" (previously unreleased) 3:04
15. "Exodus" (b-side of "Exodus", released 24 June 1977) 3:08

Tracks 12 and 14 are previously unreleased.

Disc Two

Exodus tour (Live at the Rainbow Theatre, London, 4 June 1977)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Heathen"   6:48
2. "Crazy Baldhead / Running Away" Rita Marley, Vincent Ford, Bob Marley 9:21
3. "War / No More Trouble" Allen Cole, Carlton Barrett, Bob Marley 7:44
4. "Jamming"   7:07
5. "Exodus"   11:46
Sessions with Lee Perry, July / August 1977
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Punky Reggae Party" Bob Marley, Lee Perry 9:18
7. "Punky Reggae Party (dub)" (12" single, released November 1977) Bob Marley, Lee Perry 8:47
8. "Keep on Moving" Curtis Mayfield 6:25
9. "Keep on Moving (dub)" (recorded July 1977, mixed August 1977) Curtis Mayfield 6:15
10. "Exodus / Waiting in Vain (advertisement)"   1:07

Tracks 1–5 and tracks 8, 9, and 10 are previously unreleased.

2004 Definitive Remastered Edition


No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Natural Mystic"   3:28
2. "So Much Things to Say"   3:08
3. "Guiltiness"   3:19
4. "The Heathen"   2:32
5. "Exodus"   7:40
6. "Jamming"   3:31
7. "Waiting in Vain"   4:16
8. "Turn Your Lights Down Low"   3:39
9. "Three Little Birds"   3:00
10. "One Love/People Get Ready" Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield 2:52
11. "Jamming" (long version)   5:52
12. "Punky Reggae Party" (long version)   6:50


No. Title Length
1. "Exodus" (Live at The Rainbow, 1977) 6:15
2. "Three Little Birds" 3:33
3. "One Love/People Get Ready" 2:49
4. "Exodus" (Kindred Spirit Mix Edit) 4:21


Technical personnel
Performers and musicians



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[22] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[23] Gold 623,100[24]
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Angus (2007). "Bob Marley and the Wailers Exodus: 30th Anniversary Edition Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Hilburn, Matthew. "Bob Marley & the Wailers – Exodus". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Soul > Albums". Billboard. 88 (52): 42. 25 December 1976. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ Bradshaw, Jon (14 August 1977). "The Reggae Way to 'Salvation'". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Marcus, Greil (14 July 1977). "Bob Marley – Exodus". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Cam. "Bob Marley and The Wailers – Exodus". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Billboard's Top Album Picks > Pop > Bob Marley & the Wailers – Exodus". Billboard. Vol. 89 no. 22. 4 June 1977. p. 78. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^ Klein, Joshua (7 December 2007). "Bob Marley & the Wailers – Exodus: 30th Anniversary Edition". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  9. ^ Sanders, J. Victoria (13 November 2001). "Bob Marley – Exodus (Deluxe Edition)". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 16 June 2004.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Bob Marley & the Wailers". Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  11. ^ "The Best Of The Century". Time. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  12. ^ "169 – Bob Marley and the Wailers' 'Exodus'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 November 2003.
  13. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5421a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Bob Marley & The Wailers" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus". Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus". Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  20. ^ a b c "Exodus – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  21. ^ "Lescharts.com – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus". Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  22. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus". Music Canada.
  23. ^ "French album certifications – Bob Marley – Exodus" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  24. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes de CD / Albums "Tout Temps"". Infodisc (in French). Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 16 June 2018. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Exodus in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

Further reading

  • Goldman, Vivien (2006). The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 1-4000-5286-6.
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