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Originally released in May 1984 by Island Records, Legend is a greatest hits collection of singles by Bob Marley & The Wailers. In its original vinyl format it is the best-selling reggae album of all-time, with over 11 million sold in the US, over 3.3 million sold in the UK (where it is the seventeenth best-selling album) and an estimated 33 million copies sold globally. In 2003, the album was ranked number 46 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. As of January 2020, it has spent a total of 609 nonconsecutive weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart—the second longest run in history. As of July 2020, it has spent 932 weeks in the top 100 of the U.K. Albums chart - the third-longest run in the chart's history.
Despite its generally positive reception, Legend has been criticized for being a deliberately inoffensive selection of Marley's less political music, shorn of any radicalism that might damage sales. In 2014 in the Phoenix New Times, David Accomazzo wrote "Dave Robinson, who constructed the tracklist for Legend, [said that] the tracklist for Legend deliberately was designed to appeal to white audiences. Island Records had viewed Marley as a political revolutionary, and Robinson saw this perspective as damaging to Marley's bottom line. So he constructed a greatest-hits album that showed just one face of the Marley prism, the side he deemed most sellable to the suburbs. [...] If you're looking for mass-market appeal to secular-progressive America, you don't include songs that invoke collective guilt over the slave trade, nor do you address the inconvenient truth that the bucolic Jamaican lifestyle of reggae, sandy beaches, and marijuana embraced by millions of college freshmen, exists only because of the brutal slave trade. [...] the songs on Legend offer just a brief glimpse into his music. The definitive album of the most important reggae singer of all time is a collection of love songs, feel-good sentiment, and mere hints of the fiery activist whose politics drew bullets in the '70s." Vivian Goldman wrote in 2015, "when he does get played on the radio now, it’s the mellow songs, not the angry songs, that get heard – the ones that have been compiled on albums such as Legend."