The Complete Upsetter Collection
Bob Marley & The Wailers
6 CD box set
27 - 02 - 2000
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 5|
Bob Marley & The Wailers is regarded as the world's most popular and commercially successful reggae group ever. The story began more than 37 years ago. Their first recordings were done for producer Leslie Kong : "Terror", "One Cup Of Coffee", "Judge Not" and "Do You Still Love Me". Unfortunately none of the sides sold in sufficient quantities to warrant an extended contract and Bob Marley was subsequently dropped from Kong's roster of artists.|
Towards the close of 1963 they auditioned at Coxsone's Dodd new premises at 13 Brentford Road. After hearing them perform, Coxsone offered them a five year contract, which the group promptly signed. After recording two R&B flavoured ballads, "I'm Still Waiting" and "It Hurts To Be Alone", which Coxsone issued back-to-back in limited numbers on a blank 'pre-release'. Following a moderately positive response, Coxsone arranged a second session for the group. "Simmer Down", the lyrics of which implored Jamaica's so-called 'rude boys' to refrain from their violent behaviour, which had become a major problem in many of Kingston's poorer areas. By early 1964 the song had become the island's top-selling record. The Wailers had finally reached the big time. Over the next few years, the group was rarely out of the Jamaican charts, recording something in the region of hundred different songs as well as providing backing vocals on numerous other releases for the producer.
The visit of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie 1, Emperor of Ethiopia in 1966, had a profound impact on Bob's life and beliefs. On the music front, Bob felt that the group should have greater control over their career and supervised The Wailers' first independent recordings, "Bend Down Low" and "Mellow Mood", both of which he released on the groups newly launched "Wail'M'Soul'M" label. The popularity of the singles spurred him to produce further material, but despise the quality of the subsequent releases, distribution difficulties eventually led to the demise of the label.
By the close of the decade the group teamed up with Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Perry had previously supervised a number of Wailers recordings during their time with Coxsone Dodd, and in the years since, he had maintained regular contact with the group. By this time, Perry was established as one of Jamaica's leading independent producers, after launching his own Upsetter imprint in 1968. According to Perry, the first collaboration between himself and The Wailers was a song called "Try Me", although it seems the track was withheld from release for some months, while "My Cup", from the same session, was dully issued. Unfortunately, the record did little to revive the group's flagging career and early in 1970, they signed to Leslie Kong, the producer who had launched Bob's recording career many years before. Since those early days, Kong had become Jamaica's most commercially successful producer, having scored international hits with The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, The Pioneers and The Melodians. Sadly for The Wailers, Kong already had such an array of talent at his diposal, he was unable to invest much in the way of time in his latest charges, and while a number of laudable recordings resulted from their collaborations together, hits failed to materialize. Desperate, The Wailers once again turned to Perry. In an interview for 'Black Music' magazine in 1975, the producer explained how he and Bob came to write two songs which finally put the group back on the road to success :
One Saturday I was doing some recording at a little shop in Orange Street. I said to him, "Well look here Bob, I want you to write a tune with 'yes me friend, we on the street again' in it. He gave me the third line, I gave him the fourth line and so on. We started to work together and the ideas started to flow 'til finally we made the tune "Duppy Conqueror", then he come up with the idea, 'I'm a rebel, soul rebel' and I arranged the music for that. He wrote the lyrics, those were two straight hits.
Those two songs marked a turning point in the group's fortunes. Further sides for Perry culminated in the release of the "Soul Rebels" LP, which was picked up for release in by Trojan Records. Over the next year or so, the hits continued to flow, with excellent singles such as Mr, Brown, Small Axe, Kaya and African Herbsman, and in 1972, Perry compiled a second album of their work, entitled "Soul Revolution".
For the majority of his sessions during this time, Perry employed four young, exciting musicians who had first come together in the late sixties as members of a self-contained vocal/instrumental group called The Hippy Boys. The core of the group consisted of Glenroy Adams on keyboards, Alva 'Reggie' Lewis on guitar and brothers Carlton and Aston 'Family' Man Barrett on drums and bass respectively. The quartet provided the instrumentation on most of The Wailers' Perry-produced recordings and formed a close bond with Bob, Peter and Bunny. So much so, that when, early in 1972, The Wailers decided to embark on a European tour, the Barrett brothers were recruited as full-time members of the group.
The Wailers' subsequent rise to superstardom is of course well documented and need not to be repeated here. The six-cd set gathers together every known recording Bob Marley & The Wailers cut for Lee Perry, including alternate versions and a number of rare sides featuring the group in a supporting role, providing backing vocals for singers, Dave Barker and Carl 'Ras' Dawkins. Also included are deejay versions of some of the group's songs, featuring such celebrated toasters as U Roy, Big Youth, Charlie Ace and Johnny Lover, while instrumental cuts of almost all the group's recordings are provided by the ubiquitous Upsetters.
Connoisseurs of reggae music speak of the Lee Perry sessions as the most creative period in The Wailer's history, when the group switched from their rocksteady influenced musical style to the pure and undiluted reggae style Lee Perry had introduced on the island.
Crucial and more than essential !