Although they both harmonized on the street corners in Trenchtown, Jamaica, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh's careers were always on different trajectories. Because of the significance of their status, they are given different values in society.
Marley and Tosh, along with Bunny Wailer, started the famous Wailing Wailers which would later turn into, of course, Bob Marley and the Wailers. The Wailers would record two landmark reggae albums in 1973—Catch a Fire and Burnin'. One year later, the original Wailers broke up, and in 1975 Tosh would release his first solo album, Legalize It. Bob Marley would continue recording as Bob Marley and the Wailers, releasing Natty Dread, his first without Bunny Wailer or Peter Tosh, in 1976.
Natty Dread is considered Bob Marley's greatest by many critics; it easily removed any initial worry that Tosh's guitar work and backing vocals would be sorely missed in the new Wailers. Including Marley classics like “Lively Up Yourself,” and the much-adored, much covered ballad “No Woman No Cry,” Natty Dread enjoys strong lyrical power and musical cheerfulness which often overshadows the evolving social message in Marley's lyrics.
Partially funded by Marley himself, Tosh's Legalize It sarcastically attacked a system he was previously unable to. Unlike the Wailers' syrupy, ska-tinged sound on Natty Dread, Tosh put his social message in the forefront. Tosh was known for a more rebellious perspective than Marley, a line in the sand that seemed to divide members of his audience and hurt his status as he became known as an inferior to Marley, when he's truly an equal.
Regardless, Legalize It and Natty Dread stand amongst the most celebrated pure reggae albums in history. Legalize It takes a more sarcastic, argumentative approach to societal change, while Natty Dread drips with the feeling of unity and peaceful revolution. The purer intents of Tosh's music and personality are shown on Legalize It—a more driving, purer-sounding reggae album, touched by blues licks he was unable to explore with the Wailers.
The more aggressive Tosh doesn't jive with a concentrated model of reggae that's routinely defined by Marley's Legend—a greatest hits collection coloured in sugary harmonies and polished production. But Legalize It has an undeniably laid-back, melodic vibration that sounds beautifully unprocessed and authentic beside the accomplished, too-pretty sound of Marley's Natty Dread. Legalize It is often deemed a less admired, less important album in the history of music, yet it's arguably the cultural phenomenon and the symbol of Marley which unfairly boosts a fine album like Natty Dread over it's superior, Legalize It. V