Let’s say that the first time you ever heard any reggae music was when your hipper-than-you girlfriend brought over her brand new copy of Natty Dread in 1974, and it messed up your brain-to-butt neural programming rhythms so bad that you thought you were going to throw up. You didn’t, thankfully (Praise Jah), but you did have to lie down for a little while with a wet paper towel over your face, and by the time you got up again, you were a different person. You’ve got to give Bob Marley lots of credit for hooking the world up with such a powerful alternate heartbeat, no matter how painful it might have been at the time, because honestly, those of us who have been lucky enough to be exposed to the time-canceling properties of reggae music, and have put a synaptic hiccup into the rigid 1-2-3-4 of American rock, are going to be the ones who will have the strength and the soon-come discipline to pace ourselves through any upcoming, George Bush-related universal sufferation (oh shit, the bong just tipped over on the carpet!). Of course, one-love for the group doesn’t have to make you the kind of person that has to hear every freaking thing the Wailers have ever recorded, which seems to be exactly the sort of fan this kind of collection is designed for. The third in a series of boxed sets put out by the JAD label, Man To Man is a four-CD package, with over a hundred tracks (!) from the Wailers. It’s an alternately fascinating and overwhelming experience for the casual listener (which, by these standards, is most of us), with the hits, the misses, and the wtf’s coming at you in a seemingly endless procession. Centered around the epochal work that the Wailers did with Lee Perry in 1970-1971, the first two discs contain the most well-known songs (and versions of the same), classics like “Kaya,” “Soul Rebels,” “Duppy Conqueror,” “Man To Man” (though most people are probably familiar with the later, more manicured versions of the same material), where you can feel the roots reggae sound being taken to a whole new level. At the same time, however, they were also experimenting with ways of tweaking their sound in order to reach a larger audience, a direction documented on the third disc, a wild collection of ballads, medleys, funky instrumentals and deejay tracks (one featuring U-Roy Junior!). The final disc is divided into three parts, starting with a sweet selection of alternate mixes, then an incredible batch of rare dub plate mixes (“Showing how Bob Marley would have been heard at Sound System Dances in the UK, during the early and middle 1970’s,” according to the insert) and, finally, a number of apparently very rare demos, featuring Marley playing acoustic guitar. Normally, one could get all psycho-snarky about the unhappy breast-feeding experiences of the obsessive types who might be attracted to this sort of thing, but since it’s the Wailers, why even go there? It’s a lot more Bob Marley than most will ever need, but it’s an obvious labor of love, and if you think you have to have this stuff, and have got 40 or 50 dollars burning a hole in your pocket, then step forward, I-man! Even if your fellow reggae fans have to spend the same money on groceries (and maybe a little bag of bud), all will still meet on the other side of the river.