Solomonic Singles 1: Tread Along 1969-1976
Solomonic / Dub Store Records
June 21, 2016
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
Bunny Wailer is one of the founding members of the Wailers, and the trio's only surviving member. Born Neville O'Riley Livingston on April 10, 1947, in Kingston, Jamaica, he spent his earliest years in the village of Nine Miles in St. Ann's. It was there that he first met Bob Marley, and the two toddlers became fast friends. In 1952 their families relocated to Kingston. There they met up with another pair of equally keen youngsters, Peter Tosh and Junior Braithwaite. Initially, Marley intended on a solo career, but his hopes were dashed by a failed audition for producer Leslie Kong. The upshot was the four boys now joined forces, along with backing singers Cherry Green and Beverly Kelso, as the Teenagers. They were trained in voice control, harmonies and stagecraft by Joe Higgs. The band's name would change several times before they finally settled on the Wailers.
After their audition for Coxsone Dodd, their career took off immediately with their first single, the anti-violence anthem "Simmer Down". Early on, all four of the boys contributed songs to the group, which enabled the Wailers to continue without Marley after he left Jamaica in 1966, to seek work for a time in the U.S. Over time, however, Bunny's songwriting contributions to the group had lessened, although when he did turn his hand to composing, the results were never less than scintillating. On their own Wail N Soul M label they released several excellent singles such as Bunny Wailers' "Tread Along" from 1969. By 1973, the Wailers were untouchable, the biggest reggae band in Jamaica, and on the verge of an international breakthrough. The first leg was a three month jaunt across the U.K., followed by an outing to the U.S. Bunny would never make that second leg, he barely made it through the first. Tensions were rising within the Wailers, a situation exasperated by the tour. He had enough, and upon the group's return to Jamaica, Bunny announced that he would not accompany the band to the U.S.
He now began pursuing a solo career. He launched his own label, Solomonic, with his debut solo single "Searching For Love" in 1972. The song is credited to Heat, Air and Water aka Bunny, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Further quality tunes followed, such as "Arabs Oil Weapon" (which was actually released credited to the Wailers), and "Pass It On" (an alternate version to the one found on the Wailers' "Burning" album). With the release of his stunning debut album "Blackheart Man" in 1976 he established himself as a force to be reckoned with. High quality singles, mostly pressed in limited quantities, were released through the Solomonic imprint. The albums "Protest" and "Struggle" proved quick follow-ups over the next two years.
In 1980 he gave us the album "In I Father's House" and several singles. That same year he surprised the reggae community with "Bunny Wailer Sings the Wailers", a tribute to his former group, lovingly revisiting his own favourites, accompanied by fine musicians like Sly & Robbie, Earl 'Chinna' Smith, Keith Sterling, Winston Wright, Dean Fraser, Nambo Robinson, Headly Bennett and Sticky. By the time the album was released later in 1980, Bob Marley's cancer had been diagnosed, the following spring he was gone. The album "Tribute" was drawn from the "Sings The Wailers" sessions and helped to keep the Wailers' legacy alive. His 1981 showcase album "Rock 'N' Groove", turned to the dancehalls for inspiration, was ignored by the critics but proved to be a success in Europe and the U.S. In the mid '80s the new dancehall style with its digital riddims took Jamaica and the dancehall by storm. Although he has always given a sympathetic ear to the latest innovations in production and riddims, he wasn't anymore in the forefront of reggae music. He released several albums, new stuff as well as retrospective sets, and relies mainly on the loyalty of his fans worldwide. He has won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991, 1995 and 1997.
Dub Store Records out of Japan is the major Japanese ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall reissue label run by the eponymous Tokyo based record store. The label aims at accurately covering the 50-plus years of Jamaican music. In 2010 they got to work with Bunny on re-releasing a selection of his earliest recordings for the Solomonic label. Most of his Solomonic output were released in Jamaica and the UK in strictly limited quantities. Original copies have subsequently become highly prized, and highly priced, collector’s items. They are lovingly restored and presented in reproduction sleeves and labels, on limited edition seven and twelve inch singles. Their next step is the release of Bunny’s timeless music on two beautifully packaged CD’s and double LP's. The first one shines on his outings from 1969 to 1976, some credited to The Wailers.
From 1969 comes "Tread Along" (credited to Bunny Wailer & The Wailing Wailers), one of the last singles for the Wail N Soul M label. The version of "Bide Up" is the beautiful original 7" version, different from the later "Blackheart Man" cut. A deep roots tune with Biblical references: "So, bide up with reasoning, Humble thyself and I'll be near thee... Frustrated children, humiliation was not in vain, Through effort, time and history have now found eternal gain". The aforementioned "Searching For Love" is followed by its bass driven instrumental cut. Next comes "Life Line", a compelling song, also credited to the Wailers and released in 1973. Bunny's cut of "Pass It On" (also credited to The Wailers) from 1972 and its awesome accompanying instrumental/dub take "Trod On" shine from start to finish. Later the tune appeared on The Wailers 1973 album "Burnin'" inna different version.
The 1973 oil crisis began in October 1973 and caused many short- and long-term effects on global politics and the global economy. Bunny's 1974 tune "Arabs Oil Weapon" was his biting musical reaction. Seems nothing has changed... Reggae music can't get any better - musically and lyrically - than "Amagideon". A majestic outtake, the 12" version is presented here with its chilling dub lick! Play the dub LOUD! One of the most poignant songs of Rastafarian repatriation to Africa, "Dream Land" , was first recorded in 1966 by Coxsone Dodd, and later in 1971 for Lee "Scratch" Perry. This is the 1976 7" single. "Battering Down Sentence" with its spiritual and cultural classic lyrics was written after he was arrested and jailed for possessing marijuana. The 1974 single and its dub still sound as fresh as when they were recorded way back! On the "Blackheart Man" album you'll find another version called "Fighting Against Conviction". The highly spiritual and classic Rasta song "Rasta Man" closes this 'only killers' album.
The music presented here never falls short of excellence, it's pure and undiluted reggae history!