Kicking off a long-needed reissue program of some of Dolly Parton's best albums from her late-'60s/early-'70s pure-country heyday, 1971's COAT OF MANY COLORS is perhaps her finest album from this period. The title track, of course, is one of Parton's most essential songs, but here, it's only one of many standouts. Written primarily by Parton herself (with three songs by Porter Wagoner, the mentor she was beginning to overshadow), COAT is almost a concept record. It's a collection of loosely-connected songs based on Parton's rural East Tennessee upbringing, including a slinky twist on the sound and themes of "Son of a Preacher Man" (on the sassy "Traveling Man"); the character study "She Never Met A Man (She Didn't Like)" about the town prostitute; and the downright creepy "If I Lose My Mind, " one of Wagoner's trademark tunes of mental illness, this time brought about by a cheating husband who forces his wife to watch his infidelities. The album includes no bonus tracks and minimal liner notes, but the remastered sound is excellent and the songs are indispensable.
In this revealing and poignant account of the life of her son, reggae icon Bob Marley (1945-1980), Mother Cedella Marley Booker traces the unique history of Bob Marley and his contribution to popular music as only a parent could. Booker recalls her poor rural upbringing in the district of Nine Miles in Jamaica, her parents' relationship, and her courtship with Captain Marley, the white man forty years her senior who turned up one day in her father's fields and took Cedella to his bed when she was just sixteen. Their child was Bob Marley, who would introduce the world to reggae, and whose talent would later transform the course of popular music with such classics as "Get Up, Stand Up, " "Buffalo Soldier, " "No Woman, No Cry, " Stir It Up, " and "One Love." With admirable candor, Booker shares her struggles in raising Bob on her family's farm in St. Ann's and the crime-riddled streets of Kingston, and her courageous move to start a new life in the United States. Bob stayed behind in Jamaica to perfect his music, through the two remained close as he began his transformation into reggae superstar and cultural prophet. Booker details Marley's embrace of Rastafarianism, the women in his life, his use of ganja, and his last months when Cedella nursed him until he succumbed to cancer. This book is a true look at Marley's life-not just as a cultural icon, but as a son.