Category: Bob Marley & The Wailers

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Burnin’

ARTIST: Bob Marley & the Wailers            220px-thewailersburnin

TITLE:  Burnin’

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #151, #41 R&B

SINGLES: Get Up Stand Up, I Shot the Sherriff (#67 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Small Axe, Duppy Conqueror

LINEUP: Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Aston Barrett, Carlton Barrett, Earl Lindo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Follow up to their groundbreaking world-wide debut has many classic songs as well.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with the timeless “Get Up Stand Up”, a call that resonates today all around the world, not just 1973 Jamaica, Bob Marley and the Wailers follow up to Catch a Fire has several songs of quality and distinction as well.

Featuring one traditional Jamaican chant, two songs from Bunny Wailer, one from Peter Tosh, and one co-writing credit, this is more of a group effort. The band is tight, as always, with the Barrett’s forming a tremendous backbone for the keyboards and guitar to work around and through.

It’s not as packed with quality songs as its predecessor, but it’s still a fine album in its own right and cemented Marley and the Wailers place in the world as the voice of reggae and Jamaica.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album is in the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a version with B-sides and another with an entire live show from 1973.

GRADE: A: Another crucial Marley album to listen from cover to cover.

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Catch a Fire

ARTIST: Bob Marley & the Wailers         220px-bobmarleycatchafire

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. 220px-thewailerscatchafire

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.

 

Bob Marley & the Wailers – The Best of the Wailers

ARTIST: Bob Marley & the Wailers           220px-TheWailers-TheBestOfTheWailers

TITLE:  The Best of the Wailers

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #78 US, #12 R&B, #3 UK

SINGLES: Soul Shakedown Party, Stop the Train, Soon Come

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Go Tell It on the Mountain

LINEUP: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingstone with Gladstone Anderson, Winston Wright, Hux Brown, Aston Barrett and Carlton Barrett.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Not a greatest hits collection, but a solid album of songs recorded for producer Leslie Kong in Jamaica.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Two years after this album, the music world all over the globe would hear Bob Marley & the Wailers in their full glory, but this album, full of songs recorded over a two year period, set the stage for that success.

The sound is direct and joyful, with the Wailers singing and harmonizing through songs that they’ve had in their repertoire for years. “Soul Shakedown Party”, the lead cut, is a definite anthem. The backing by Gladdy Anderson’s All Stars was spot on, highlighting and complementing the vocalists and providing the rhythm and feeling needed.

Leslie Kong was a great producer, but soon the Wailers moved on to Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Kong’s work schedule got the best of him. He died a week after he released this, and this may be a great epitaph for him.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A reason the band left Kong was that they didn’t like the title of the album, though Kong thought this was the best they would ever do. It really was the best album Kong produced.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of re-mixes (called Version in Jamaica).

GRADE: A-: A fantastic insight of the Wailers before they made it big, with some great songs that are relatively unknown.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Soul Revolution

ARTIST: Bob Marley & The Wailers 220px-SoulRevolutionII
TITLE: Soul Revolution
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: #122 US, #40 R&B, #12 UK
SINGLES: Duppy Conquerer, Kaya, Soul Rebel, African Herbsman, Don’t Rock My Boat
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Keep on Moving
LINEUP: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston, Alva Lewis, Glen Adams, Aston Barrett, Carlton Barrett
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second proper Jamaican album by the Wailers featuring sessions recorded for singles and B-sides by Scratch Perry.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Wailers were quickly becoming the group in reggae music in Jamaica, and with the Upsetters (Perry’s backing band, including the Barrett brothers) backing them they had a strong combination of melody, lyrics and arrangements.

This sounds raw, still, but raw in a good way. Perry’s studio was still rather rudimentary compared to those in the UK and the US, but he did capture the emotion of the group and the depth of the playing.

As with other Jamaican releases, several of these songs made it onto later Island albums, with “Kaya” lending itself to an album title. Marley’s songwriting was already coming into great focus. If you’re mildly interested in Marley and the Wailers past the cursory compilations, this is a good one to hear.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The cover says Soul Revolution Part II, which did exist. That is a dub album of these same songs, sold in limited quantities in Jamaica.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: The production is rawer than you’re accustomed to, but this is fine stuff. Irie!

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Soul Rebels

ARTIST: Bob Marley & The Wailers 220px-SoulRebelsCDCover
TITLE: Soul Rebels
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: #197 US, #48 R&B, #10 UK
SINGLES: My Cup, Soul Rebel
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No. This was a Jamaica / UK release.
LINEUP: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Aston Barrett, Carlton Barrett
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First international release by Marley & the Wailers, and the first real album session. It’s spare, raw reggae produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When someone says they like Bob Marley, ask them if they’ve heard this record, or heard of it. The Island releases (starting a couple of years after this was released) are well known by most any Marley fan, but these early reggae releases are rather much something die-hards know.

Picking through the various albums and releases can be tough. Know this, Marley and the Wailers released three full length albums (and one rare dub recording) between 1970 and 1971 for Trojan Records in the UK (and Jamaica of course), then moved to Island. There are at least two or three compilations that have a lot of these songs – and you can find at least two of those albums streaming in whole anyway.

As for the music, it’s hardcore reggae that is without horns or embellishment. Just guitar, bass, drums and organ with the voices. The rhythms are there – the bass isn’t as deep as it would get and the production is a bit rough but probably about the best you can expect. The Wailers had something in them, you can tell, and many of these early songs wound up on later albums in new versions.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Backing musicians Aston and Carlton Barrett were part of the Upsetters, Perry’s house band, and they soon joined the Wailers..

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, bonus tracks with non-album singles and dub versions. They released a lot of singles in Jamaica.

GRADE: B+: Even the novice reggae fan would find something to enjoy out of this.