BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS (b. 1945 - † 1981)
THE COMPLETE UPSETTER COLLECTION
* * * * *1969-1971 - Trojan - studio - discs: 6
Most of the people, at least the average not hardcore / experts listeners, once attracted by Bob Marley & The Wailers go for the classic sets: from "Catch A Fire" to "Uprising". I did the same, of course. But Bob Marley & The Wailers did something before those albums. And those recordings are beautiful. We are not here to write the life of Bob Marley, but some steps of his early career must be remembered. Once in Trench Town around 1957 Bob Marley started to hear Mento and Calypso along with American Rhythm & Blues: these sounds were everywhere. By the same time Bob was already a long friend of Neville "Bunny" Livingston (born on April 10th, 1947). They used to attend the evening music sessions of Joe Higgs. There they met Peter McIntosh. They soon started to harmonize together and the trio became a sextet (the other three were Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith). They called themselfs "The Wailers". By the beginning of the 60's the Jamaican record industry was a serious business and everyday there was a Sound System around. The top producer was Leslie Kong, soon followed by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, Arthur "Duke" Reid and Cecil "Prince Buster" Campbell. Kong was working with the singer Derrick Morgan, and in 1962 the latter invited Bob to the studio. Two singles were recorded. These singles did not sell well and the relationship with Kong quit. By 1963 Higgs friend Alvin "Seeco" Patterson arranged a session with Clement "Coxsone" Dodd at the legendary 13 Brentford Road studio. A contract for five years was offered and they signed immediately. They recorded a couple of tracks and in the meantime Braithwaite and Smith quit the group. After this episode they recorded "Simmer Down" in early 1964. It was a success. After this song they kept recording. On February 10th 1966, Bob married Alvarita "Rita" Anderson. After one day he went to work in Dalaware, US. On April 21st 1966 H.I.M. Haile Selassie I visited Jamaica. In October Bob was back. In Jamaica he met Mortimer Planner, a Rastafari elder and seminal figure of the movement. He was responsible for Bob's conversion to Rastafari. Bob founded the Wail "M" Soul "M" label. They recorded "Bend Down Low" and "Mellow Mood". The label did not last long because of distribution difficulties. By the end of the 60's their success was declining. By the end of 1969 The Wailers recorded a couple of songs for Lee "Scratch" Perry. Perry had already supervised some recordings made at Studio One. In 1968 Perry started his own "Upsetter" label and quickly became a leading independent producer. According to Perry "Try Me" and "My Cup" were the first recordings. These songs did not get the expected attention and they turned again to Leslie Kong in 1970. They recorded for him but again there was not a positive commercial response. They went back to Lee Perry. Bob and Perry wrote together "Duppy Conqueror" and Bob alone wrote "Soul Rebel". These songs were big hits. Some of the following recordings were released inside an album: "Soul Rebels" (1971). In 1972 Perry compiled a second set called "Soul Revolution". For these recordings, Perry employed four young musicians: Glenroy Adams (keyboards), Alva "Reggie" Lewis (guitar), Carlton Barrett (drums) and his brother Aston "Family Man" Barrett (bass). They play as backing band. In 1972 the Barrett brothers became members of the wailing Wailers. They recorded over fifty songs for Perry. This huge six CDs release contains all these recordings plus all the best instrumentals and DJ versions. Dave Barker, Carl "Ras" Dawkins, U Roy, Big Youth, Charlie Ace and Johnny Lover are present here. The "Bob Marley & The Wailers" you got in 76' was already breathing here! ...Without Babylon and Corruption around! Listen to these songs and you will understand why Chris Blackwell cleverly (for both, at the end) signed the Wailers soon after. The rest is history. No mon, ... I-story! Yes Jah Music.
1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Soul Rebel
2. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Soul Rebel (Version 4)
3. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Soul Rebel (Alternate Version)
4. The Upsetters - Soul Rebel (Dub Version)
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Run For Cover (Soul Rebel)
6. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Try Me
7. The Upsetters - Try Me (Dub Version)
8. Bob Marley & The Wailers - It's Alright
9. The Upsetters - It's Alright (Dub Version)
10. Bob Marley & The Wailers - It's Alright (Alternate Version)
11. Bob Marley & The Wailers - No Sympathy
12. The Upsetters - No Sympathy (Dub Version)
13. Bob Marley & The Wailers - My Cup
14. The Upsetters - Rebel's Hop (Dub Version)
15. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Corner Stone
16. The Upsetters - Corner Stone (Dub Version)
17. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Jah Is Mighty (Corner Stone Version 2)
1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Four Hundred Years
2. The Upsetters - Four Hundred Years (Dub Version)
3. Bob Marley & The Wailers - No Water
4. The Upsetters - No Water (Dub Version)
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Reaction
6. The Upsetters - Reaction (Dub Version)
7. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Soul Almighty
8. The Upsetters - Soul Almighty (Dub Version)
9. Bob Marley & Lee Perry - Shocks Of Mighty Pt.1
10. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Shocks Of Mighty Pt.2
11. The Upsetters - Shocks Of Mighty (Dub Version)
12. Carl Dawkins & Bob Marley & The Wailers - True Love
13. Carl Dawkins & Bob Marley & The Wailers - Cloud Nine
14. Dave Barker & Bob Marley & The Wailers - Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying
15. The Upsetters - Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying (Dub Version)
16. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Duppy Conqueror
17. The Upsetters - Duppy Conqueror (Version 4)
18. Dave Barker & The Upsetters - Upsetting Station
19. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Duppy Conqueror (Alternate Mix)
1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Mr. Brown
2. The Upsetters - Mr. Brown (Dub Version)
3. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Small Axe
4. Bob Marley & The Wailers - More Axe
5. The Upsetters - Battle Axe
6. Dave Barker & Charlie Ace & The Upsetters - Shocks 71
7. Bob Marley & The Wailers - More More Axe
8. The Upsetters - The Axe Man
9. Carl Dawkins & Bob Marley & The Wailers - Pictures On The Wall
10. The Upsetters - Picture On The Wall (Version 3)
11. Bunny Livingstone & The Wailers - Dreamland
12. Winston Wright & The Upsetters - Dreamland (Instrumental)
13. U.Roy & The Upsetters - Dreamland
14. Bunny Livingstone & The Wailers - Dreamland (Version 2)
15. Bob Marley & The Wailers - All In One (Medley)
16. Bob Marley & The Wailers - All In One (Pt.2)
17. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Medley
18. Peter Tosh & The Wailers - Downpresser
19. The Upsetters - Downpresser (Dub Version)
1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Long Long Winter
2. The Upsetters - Long Long Winter (Dub Version)
3. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Love Light (Shining)
4. The Upsetters - Love Light (Dub)
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Love Light (Shining) (Alternate Version)
6. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Send Me That Love
7. Dave Barker & Bunny Wailer - What A Confusion
8. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Man To Man (Who The Cap Fits)
9. The Upsetters - Man To Man (Dub Version)
10. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Keep On Moving
11. The Upsetters - Keep On Moving (Dub Version)
12. Big Youth & The Upsetters - Keep On Moving (Moving Version)
13. Bob Marley & The Upsetters - Keep On Moving (Alternate Version)
14. Bob Marley & The Upsetters - Don't Rock My Boat
15. The Upsetters - Don't Rock My Boat (Dub Version)
16. Bob Marley & The Upsetters - Don't Rock My Boat (Alternate Mix)
17. Johnny Lover & The Upsetters - Like It Like This (Don't Rock My Boat)
18. Bob Marley & The Upsetters - Don't Rock My Boat (Alternate Mix)
1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Put It On
2. The Upsetters - Put It On (Dub Version)
3. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Fussing & Fighting
4. The Upsetters - Fussing & Fighting (Dub Version)
5. Peter Tosh & The Upsetters - Memphis
6. The Upsetters - Memphis (Dub Version)
7. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Riding High
8. The Upsetters - Riding High (Dub Version)
9. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Kaya
10. The Upsetters - Kaya (Dub Version)
11. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Turn Me Loose
12. Bob Marley & The Wailers - African Herbsman
13. The Upsetters - African Herbsman (Dub Version)
14. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Stand Alone
15. The Upsetters - Stand Alone (Dub Version)
16. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Sun Is Shining
17. The Upsetters - Sun Is Shining (Dub Version)
1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Brain Washing
2. The Upsetters - Brain Washing (Dub Version)
3. Peter Tosh & The Wailers - Brand New Second Hand
4. The Upsetters - Brand New Second Hand (Dub Version)
5. Peter Tosh & The Wailers - Brand New Second Hand (Alternate Version)
6. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Concrete Jungle
7. The Upsetters - Concrete Jungle (Dub Version)
8. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Rainbow Country
9. The Upsetters - Rainbow Country (Dub Version)
10. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Satisfy My Soul
11. The Upsetters - Satisfy My Soul (Dub Version)
12. Bob Marley - Keep On Skanking
13. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Natural Mystic
14. The Upsetters - Natural Mystic (Dub Version)
15. Bob Marley & The Wailers - I Know A Place
16. The Upsetters - I Know A Place (Dub Version)
17. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Who Colt The Game
* * * /1970 - JAD - studio - discs: 1
Previuos to this debut album, Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded alternatively for some different producers and for their own label too. A straight list reads: Leslie Kong (1962), Coxsone Dodd (1963), their own label Wail "M" Soul "M" (late 1966, early 1967), Lee "Scratch" Perry (1969), Kong again (1970) and Lee Perry again (1971). (Please refer to my comments on "The Complete Upsetter Collection" for more details). Some of the recordings for Lee Perry were released inside this album: "Soul Rebels" (1971). In 1972 Perry compiled a second set called "Soul Revolution". For these recordings, Perry employed four young musicians: Glenroy Adams (keyboards), Alva "Reggie" Lewis (guitar), Carlton Barrett (drums) and his brother Aston "Family Man" Barrett (bass). This crucial set presents the young Bob Marley, Neville "Bunny" Livingston, Peter McIntosh and the future members of The Wailers (the Barrett brothers) as some highly talented artists that under the production and mixing skills of Lee Perry had musically something very interesting to say. Whatever the following recriminations about royalties and other legal issues, it is absolutely undeniable that Perry was able to make these early recordings being something more than some anonymous cuts from almost unknown artists. This is a set that should be checked before venturing in "Catch A Fire" (1973) and the following albums. But if you are interested in the full picture go for "The Complete Upsetter Collection". "Soul Rebels" is just a very small slice of that great musical cake.
CATCH A FIRE
* * * /1973 - Island - studio - discs: 1
"Catch A Fire" is the beginning of the international adventure of Bob Marley & The Wailers. In 1972 they signed with Chris Blackwell's Island label. The owner of Island decided for an international audience to be the target of this release. The group recorded at Dynamic Sound Studios, Harry J Studios and Randy's Studios in Kingston. What was recorded can be called "The Unreleased Jamaican Versions" of "Catch A Fire". The players were Bob Marley, Peter McIntosh, Bunny Livingston, Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his brother Carlton "Carly" Barrett, with the addition of Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths on backing vocals. The tapes were brought to London's Island Studios were the overdubs were added. Of the original eleven tracks available, nine were chosen. These additions were made by John "Rabbit" Bundrick on synthesizer, clavinet and organ; Wayne Perkins as lead guitar ("Concrete Jungle" and "Baby We've Got A Date (Rock It Baby)"); Robbie Shakespeare on bass ("Concrete Jungle"); Tyrone Downie on organ ("Concrete Jungle" and "Stir It Up"); Chris Karen, Francisco Willie Pep and Winston Wright on percussions. The set was released on April 13,1973 with its eye catching cover designed to reproduce a Zippo lighter. This is what happened in a few words. History is full of "what if..." but in this case "if" could be written in capital letters. What would have happen of Bob Marley & The Wailers IF they did not signed with Blackwell with this version of the songs as a result? Marley, McIntosh and Livingston had already recorded top class Reggae and for sure they would have keep recording top material. Actually they did. All the rest are only suppositions and speculations. It is impossible to predict the future as it is quite nonsense to write a different possible past. They caught what in that moment seemed the right train. "Catch A Fire" is not bad but listen to "The Unreleased Jamaican Versions". They are far better. As sometimes happen with originals.
CATCH A FIRE - Deluxe Edition
°1973 - Island - studio - discs: 2
This special re-released edition from 2001 contains the "Catch A Fire" album (1973) plus the unreleased original Jamaican versions. Please refer above and below for my comments on "Catch A Fire" and "Catch A Fire - The Original Unreleased Jamaican Versions".
CATCH A FIRE - The Original Unreleased Jamaican Versions
* * * * /1972 - studio - discs: 1
"Catch A Fire" (1973) as we know it today is a development of the songs previously recorded in Jamaica by the late 1972. (Please refer to my comments on the "Catch A Fire" set for more informations). Here, as a special bonus disc inside the re-released two CDs edition from 2001, those tracks can be appreciated to the fullness. The disc contains all the eleven tracks recorded in Jamaica, with "High Tide Low Tide" and "All Day All Night" as two songs that were not included in the final release. These eleven tracks are pure straight Reggae without any sensless additions. These versions are far better than those on the final release where the musical additions instead of invigorating the material they took away some of the original flavour. The core lies here, so I hardly prefer the Jamaican versions to the "international audience" spiced sounds of the London's remixes.
* * * *1973 - studio - discs: 1
On October 19, 1973, six months after the debut "Catch A Fire", "Burnin'" was released. The core of The Wailers (Bob Marley, Peter McIntosh, Bunny Livingston, Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his brother Carlton "Carly" Barrett) is joyned by Earl "Wya" Lindo on keyboards and Alvin "Seeco" Patterson on percussion. This second highly powerful set was recorded at Harry J Studios in Kingston with again Chris Blackwell and The Wailers producing. But this time there are no instruments additions to the original recordings, and the result is far more interesting than the London's version of "Catch A Fire". The group is quite self confident to make some classic Wailers songs shine. If at the end the debut was received without the expected positive reactions, "Burnin'" reached the deserved effect: the press started to pay far more attention to The Wailers with enthusiastic comments. Without any doubts this is a strong set. The Wailers were able control the final product without any musical interferences. "Burnin'" and "Catch A Fire" are interlinked due to some songs that were already long time compositions. This is a crucial step inside the career of The Wailers. After this set Peter McIntosh and Bunny Livingston went solo and The Wailers changed forever.
BURNIN' - Deluxe Edition
°1973 - Island - studio - discs: 2
This special re-released edition from 2004 contains the original "Burnin'" album (1973) plus some extra material. The first part of this added bonus consists of three songs that were not included in the final tracks list of "Burnin'". "Reincarnated Soul" was at one point the title track of what became the "Burnin'" set. This song actually already appeared as the B side of "Concrete Jungle"'s single released on May 29th, 1973. "No Sympathy" is a composition from Peter Tosh. After Peter quit the Wailers he re-recorded it and released it in his "Legalize It" album (1975). "The Oppressed Song" is a composition from Bunny Wailer. After Bunny quit the Wailers he re-recorded it and released it in his "Blackheart Heart" album (1976). After those three songs there are two alternate takes of "Get Up, Stand Up". The second part of the bonus material is the entire concert recorded at Leeds Polytechnic, Leeds, UK (November 23rd, 1973). Please refer above and below for my comments on "Burnin'" and "Live At Leeds".
LIVE AT LEEDS, UK
* * * *1973 - Island - live - discs: 1
This live set was recorded on November 23, 1973 at Leeds Polytechnic, Leeds, England. Here the Wailers playing were Bob Marley on guitar and vocals, Peter Tosh on guitar and vocals, Earl "Wya" Lindo on keyboards, Aston "Family Man" Barrett on bass and his brother on drums. During the summer of 1973 the Wailers embarked on their first American tour to promote "Catch A Fire" (released on April 13, 1973). After this tour they released "Burnin'" (October 19, 1973) and toured England. This twelve songs live set was one of the last dates of the UK tour. Bunny Wailer had left the Wailers once "Burnin'" was completed and is not present here. Joe Higgs replaced Bunny during the US tour but was not in the UK. During this set the Wailers present six songs from "Catch A Fire": "Slave Driver", "Stop That Train", "Midnight Ravers", "No More Trouble", "Kinky Reggae" and "Stir It Up". Four songs are from "Burnin'": "Duppy Conqueror", "Burnin' And Lootin'", "Get Up, Stand Up" and "Put It On". Then there is "Can't Blame The Youth" and "Lively Up Yourself" which will appear in the "Natty Dread" album (1974). This is a great occasion to get the pre-international stardom sounds from The Wailers. This is really great Wailers before things started to change direction. Here they clearly showed that this new sound was delivered from very serious artists for a very serious music.
* * * * /1973 - Island - studio-live - discs: 1
In October 1973 The Wailers were promoting the "Catch A Fire" debut set in the US. The tour was intended as seventeen shows supporting one of the strongest american black bands, Sly & The Family Stone. After only four shows their tour with Sly ended. Rumors says that the american band recieved less acclaimed response than The Wailers. Without any other dates to face they accepted a two shows contract to play by the famous San Francisco based Matrix club. The reaction from the public was so positive that two other shows were arranged. The independent KSAN-FM Radio from San Francisco had promoted hugely The Wailers dedut set and offered the possibility to record a live studio set. The Wailers went to the Record Plant Studio (Sausalito, San Francisco) and recorded live some great material. With only five or six (lucky) people in the Studio, The Wailers shined. At that session there were Bob and Peter on rhythm guitar and vocals; Earl "Wire" Lindo on keyboards; Aston "Familyman" Barrett on bass and his brother Carlton Barrett on drums plus the great Joe Higgs as some sort of guest on vocals and percussions. These songs are the only one recorded during the 1973 American tour. At the Record Plant they recorded ten tracks: "Burnin' & Lootin'", "Kinky Reggae", "Get Up, Stand Up", "Slave Driver", "Walk The Proud Land" (originally recorded as "Rude Boy" in the mid 60's), "Lively Up Yourself", "Can't Blame The Youth", "Stop That Train", "Rastaman Chant" (these from "Catch A Fire" and "Burnin'") and "Bend Down Low". This is the core of this compilation, but it is not over here. In September 1975 Bob gave an interview to Dermot Hussey. This two hours (!) interview was aired on JBC Radio. Unfortunately here there are only very short excerpts (one and a half minute each as a maximum). It is a shame that we are not able to get full access to this recorded nterview. The set has some more bonus tracks. First of all there are three studio recordings from "Natty Dread" (1974): "Talkin' Blues" and "Bend Down Low" (as alternate recordings) and "Am-A-Do" (previously unreleased). Than there is "I Shot The Sheriff" recorded at The Lyceum, London, on 18th July 1975. This is not the one included in the "Live!" set, which was recorded on 19th July 1975. The 7:12 minutes long version presented here is even better that that released on the "Live!" set. The compilation is a little bit confusing since all the tracks are sorted in a quite nonsense way. But if you put them in the right sequence, well... some perfect vibrations will hit you. Whithout pain, of course!
* * * * *1974 - Island - studio - discs: 1
With the artistic departure of Peter McIntosh and Bunny Livingston, Bob Marley was totally in charge for the future of The Wailers, with the group now called Bob Marley and The Wailers. The group recorded again at Harry J Studios, this time with a five members group: Marley, Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his brother Carlton "Carly" Barrett, Touter on piano and organ and Al Anderson on lead guitar. The I-Threes joyned here for the first time. Some Jamaican music historians state that this is probably the stronger album Bob Marley ever recorded. I agree adding that the following and sometimes underrated "Positive Vibration" stands at the same level. A deep and dark athmosphere permeates this set with the high peaks of "So Jah Seh" and "Revolution". This third album was recorded at Harry J Studios in Kingston with again Chris Blackwell and The Wailers producing. This is indeed one of the two perfect Bob Marley and The Wailers albums: still linked to their musical roots and not yet "corrupted" by too much international exposure. A masterpiece.
1. Lively Up Yourself
2. No Woman No Cry
3. Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)
4. Rebel Music (Three O'Clock Roadblock)
5. So Jah S'eh
6. Natty Dread
7. Bend Down Low
8. Talkin' Blues
* * * *1975 - Island - live - discs: 1
On December 5, 1975 "Live!" was released. For one reason this is a seminal set. This was the first chance to listen to Bob Marley and the Wailers directly from a stage. This concert was recorded at the Lyceum, London, July 19th 1975. Island went low profile and originally released a one disc album instead of a two discs one. The present CD version adds "Kinky Reggae" as a bonus. This is for sure one of the greatest top selling live albums of the 70's. As a matter of fact all the tracks are classics, and that is the reason why in the original release "Kinky Reggae" was not included. All the seven original tracks had to be included. These versions of "Trenchtown Rock", "Burnin' & Lootin'", "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)", "Lively Up Yourself", "No Woman, No Cry", "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Get Up, Stand Up" had been at least listened once by everyone worldwide. All the tracks are heartfelt and perfectly played, with "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Get Up, Stand Up" as the higher peaks. For these reasons, even if not all the songs are pure musical gems, this album will last forever.
* * * * *1976 - Island - studio - discs: 1
"Rastaman Vibration" is often underrated. Maybe because there is not a "No Woman, No Cry" or a "Lively Up Yourself" in it. Who knows... From my point of view in this set lies the perfect Bob Marley and The Wailers sound. Marley, Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his brother Carlton "Carly" Barrett, Tyrone Downie, Alvin "Seeco" Patterson, Earl "Chinna" Smith, Donald Kinsey, Al Anderson and the I-Threes provide the perfect athmosphere for some beautiful songs. This fourth powerful set was recorded at Harry J Studios and Joe Gibbs Studio in Kingston. This is the first time that The Wailers produced themselfs. This is a Rastafarian's spirituality filled album that stands as a powerfully social and political statement inside the 70's. The following "Exodus" set (1976) overshadowed the present album due to its international success, but "Rastaman Vibration" is the perfect successor to "Natty Dread": both strong, confident and uncompromising Roots music.
1. Positive Vibration
2. Roots, Rock, Reggae
3. Johnny Was
4. Cry To Me
5. Want More
6. Crazy Baldhead
7. Who The Cap Fit
8. Night Shift
10. Rat Race
LIVE AT THE ROXY
* * * * /1976 - Island - live - discs: 2
Among the huge amount of hours of live material recorded over the years, in 2003 Island released this great set recorded at the Roxy, Hollywood, California on May 26th, 1976. This concert was recorded in the small Roxy Club, therefore the mood is wonderfully laid back and gentle. The first disc contains the usual classics, but the general atmosphere is so cool and calm that it is like as if it was a private minute session. For this reason this first disc is almost a masterpiece. Here we are far away from the big crowded concerts and the songs are such heartfelt that the final material shines at full effect. Here there are almost 59 minutes of pure Roots, delivered with the intention to make the audience aware of what Bob's message was. It is impossible to miss one word. This is like a slow motion Bob Marley & The Wailers concert were the music and the lyrics flow like the few drops of a mountain spring. A beautiful experience. The second disk is something different. Apart from a four minutes "Positive Vibration", there is a real flooding with a 24 (!) minutes long jam of "Get Up, Stand Up/No More Trouble/War". This never ending musical texture spreads the true musical and lyrical power of one of the biggest messages filled artist ever born in Jamaica.
* * * * /1976 - Island - studio - discs: 1
This set is considered by many the best album from Bob Marley & The Wailers. If is not the best set, is for sure one of the strongest statements inside their discography and inside the 70's too. "Exodus - Movement Of Jah People", with its eye catching gold cover, became immediately a classic not only for Reggae fans but among Rock audience too. Almost every song is a classic, and the newcomers will cite tracks as "Jamming" and "One Love / People Get Ready". But the high peaks stand elsewhere: the stellar and seminal songs are "Natural Mystic", "Guiltiness" and "The Heathen". The title track, even if it is a great song, is inferior. Even if I do not consider "Exodus" a five stars set, it remains a great statement.
On Friday, Dec. 31, 1999 TIME magazine published The Best Of The Century issue.
Best Album: "Exodus" by Bob Marley & the Wailers
"Every song is a classic, from the messages of love to the anthems of revolution. But more than that, the album is a political and cultural nexus, drawing inspiration from the Third World and then giving voice to it the world over. Runners-up: "Kind of Blu"e by Miles Davis; "Are You Experienced?" by Jimi Hendrix."
BABYLON BY BUS
* * * *1978 - Island - live - discs: 1
This double album presents Bob Marley & The Wailers as world superstars. The "Live!" set (recorded at the Lyceum, London, July 19th 1975) is considered by someone superior than "Babylon By Bus" since there the atmosphere was more intimate and much warmer. Actuallu it was. "Babylon By Bus" presents Bob's performances in huge and highly crowded concerts (Paris, summer 1978). Consequently the songs are delivered with the intention to reach even the last row: the sound is strong and powerful as a big show asks for. Is quite meaningless to compare the two albums since two different spots deliver two different kind of vibrations. "Live!" is better but the present set contains some seminal material. In any case three years has passed since the London Lyceum concerts and in the meantime the sound has reached that international flavour that is not appreciated by every Bob' fan. Here is pure Roots Rock Reggae. The songs that I prefer are: "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)", the super medley of "War / No More Trouble" and the deep almost Nyahbinghi of "The Heathen". But I am sure that eveyone will find his gems inside this top seller, top acclaimed and a little bit too much commercial seminal 70's live set.
* * * *1978 - Island - studio - discs: 1
For some reasons this is a quite discussed set. The hardcore Roots fans state that with this set Bob went soft. I think that this only a different side of Bob's personality. Bob recut three old songs: "Sun Is Shining", "Kaya" and "Satisfy My Soul"; adding some different worst atmosphere. As in every Bob Marley & The Wailers album there are some gems, in this case "Misty Morning" and "Running Away". The set contains the classic "Is This Love", a top success when rereleased inside the "Legend" collection (1984). Actually it is nothing special, only a great dancing tune. The set ends with the beautiful slow Nyahbinghi spiced "Time Will Tell". This underrated set needs some time to be appreciated, but once you feel it, you will find a set that is only apparently overshadowed by its predecessors or successors.
* * * * /1979 - Island - studio - discs: 1
"Survival" was released in summer 1979. This set is some sort of come back of the classic Roots sounds after the meditative "Kaya" (1978). This is a very strong set, and one of the best for sure. The conscious (as would be called today) lyrics are present in each of the ten songs, with a strong attention to Africa as in "Zimbabwe" and "Africa Unite". The uninspired songs, at least musically speaking, are "Babylon System" and "Ride Natty Ride". Probably the more hartfelt and and for sure the more politically oriented is "Ambush In The Night", describing the assasination attempt of December 3, 1976. The strongest songs are "So Much Trouble In The World", "Zimbabwe", "Top Rankin'", the title track "Survival", "One Drop". The gem is the deep "Wake Up And Live".
* * * *1980 - Island - studio - discs: 1
June 10, 1980, was the day when "Uprising" was released. This is the last album from Bob Marley & The Wailers. This is a good album and even if Bob was already quite sick, the music and the message are strong as always. The sound is very rich and styled, maybe a little too much. Bob is strong enough to deliver some great songs, particularly with two gems: the stellar "Zion Train" and the equally marvellous "Forever Loving Jah". The rest is quite standard material with the exception of the highly overrated funkysh "Could You Be Loved", a song that is mainly known by the newcomers for its inclusion in the overremixed "Legend" collection (1984). Another track that never got my heart is the top acclaimed "Redemption Song". The lyrics are good indeed, but at the end it is only some sort of demo track. Being inserted in "Legend" makes it legendary, but from my point of view Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded far better music. More than that being the last song of the set is felt as the "last words". Bob died on May 11, 1981 and the music changed forever.
* * * /1983 - Island - studio - discs: 1
This set is a postnumous one and it lacks the strength and the cohesiveness of the last albums. This is a sort of compilation with various material from the last years. Rumors say that this was intended as the third part of a trilogy which begun with "Survival" (1979) and was followed by "Uprising" (1980). The choosen tracks were remixed by Errol Brown, Chris Blackwell and Aston Barrett, and the result is most of the time quite faked. I have never been a fan of this album since I feel it as no more than a commercial move. Any way... the set opens with "Chant Down Babylon", originally recorded during the "Uprising" sessions. "Buffalo Soldier" is a song from 1978. "Jump Nyabinghi" was concieved in 1979. "Mix Up, Mix Up" was originally a guitar and drum machine song. "Give Thanks & Praises" is a track from the late 70's. "Blackman Redemption" seems to to a track from 1978 composed with Lee "Scratch" Perry; at least this is what I heared. "Trench Town" is from 1980. "Stiff Necked Fools" is said to be an early Wailers tune. "I Know" plays disco and is really embarassing. The set closes with "Rastaman Live Up!" which again is rumored as a track concieved along with Lee Perry. The larger part of these material was rearranged, remixed and in some case even completed without Bob's presence and the resulting feeling is that of deep sadness. The cannibals had started to do their job.
IRON LION ZION
* * *VARIOUS - Island - studio - discs: 1
This four songs release contains "Iron Lion Zion" (both 7" and 12" mix), "Smile Jamaica" (1976) and the alternative mix of "Three Little Birds" (1977). "Iron Lion Zion" was rearranged in 1992 and released in the collection Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On (1995). "Iron Lion Zion" become immediately broadcasted all over the world but the song was originally recorded in 1973. The song is undoubtly the only good remix of a song from Bob, but is sad to hear a forgery like this. Not to mention the 12" mix which is depressing. "Smile Jamaica" (written with Lee "Scratch" Perry) "is a good track as "Three Little Birds" is; even if the latter does not add anything to the original.
BOB MARLEY INTERVIEWS...
* * * *1973 - Tuff Gong - studio - discs: 1
This thirty minutes audio interview is a must. The interview was made by Neville Willoughby in 1973. Mr.Willoughby (1937-2006) was a famous voice in Jamaica. He started his career in 1959 at Radio Jamaica. After a few years he joyned the BBC where he worked as an announcer and developed a reputation as one of the best interviewers. When he returned home after two years in London, in 1963, he moved onto what was then the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation but in 1968, his focus shifted to one of his passions: music. But broadcasting was always his major interest and it was here that he really made his mark, producing one of the number one shows on radio for many years: Pipeline. Willoughby also produced and presented many programmes for television both on JBC and JIS. It was on Pipeline that he conducted two of the most famous interviews with Bob Marley. The first took place in 1973 in the final moments before the singer broke internationally, the second on the eve of the much talked about Peace concert (1978). Here we have a special occasion to hear the words of this great artist just at the beginning of his Chris Blackwell's propelled career. If you are interested not only in music but in words too, check it! I bought this CD in Marley house in Hope Road, Kingston. What a day.
* * * * /1973-1979 - Tuff Gong - studio - discs: 1
This CD comes within the book "Marley Legend - An Illustrated Life of Bob Marley" by James Henke (Simon & Schuster 2006). It contains two interviews. The first presents some excerpts from an interview by Neville Willoughby (1973) and it already appeared in "Bob Marley Interviews...". So please refer above for my comments. The second is from an unknown journalist upon the release of the "Survival" set (1979). Bob talks about the set and its meaning. He spends a lot of words about the meaning of an united Africa, the meaning about being black and his Rastafarian beliefs. Since there are only few officially released interviews, this CD and "Bob Marley Interviews..." are a must to overstand more what Bob's deep message is.