ARTIST: Bob Marley & the Wailers
TITLE: Catch a Fire
YEAR RELEASED: 1973
CHART ACTION: #171, #51 R&B
SINGLES: Stir It Up, Concrete Jungle
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Stop That train
LINEUP: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Aston Barret, Carlton Barrett, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, John Bundrick with help from Wayne Perkins, Tyrone Downie, and Robbie Shakespeare, among others.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First true international release on Island records is an instant classic, a landmark recording, and above all, brings reggae into the consciousness of the US and UK outside of the Jamaican community.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Singed by Island after a contract dispute was resolved, Marley and the Wailers presented this definitive statement to the world. The album was recorded in Jamaica, but Island Records honcho Chris Blackwell had overdubs done in London and the result enhanced the record to where it became the standard for all reggae albums.
Marley’s songs, combined with the Wailers’ strong performances and the themes of poverty and struggle, injustice, and love, set the stage for the world to hear reggae, and then what was happening in Jamaica which was out-of-sight and out-of-mind for many.
The fantastic rhythm section of “Family Man” and Carlton Barrett (on bass and drums respectively) is the rock the songs are grounded in. Without their solid, steadfast work, Marley’s songs wouldn’t have a base that propels them into the consciousness.
If you have one reggae record to buy, don’t get a Marley hits collection, get this, which is conceptually solid and fantastically executed.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The phrase “Catch a Fire” means smoking herb.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The original, un-overdubbed album is available as part of the deluxe edition with two additional songs. That version is also outstanding in its own way.
GRADE: A+: The reggae album to have.