Various artists album review
Homage To Bob Marley
Smith & Co. Sound & Vision
January 5 - 2004
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 5|
Bob Marley was the first ghetto superstar, responsible for introducing Jamaican music to a mainstream audience. Bob Marley showed poor people all over the world that they can make it in life. For many he still is their ultimate hero and source of inspiration, for many others he is their comforter in hope for better. Bob's universal message of love and unity is still heard today by young and old.
Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in the community of Nine Miles in Jamaica. Bob grew up in Trenchtown, a Kingston ghetto area where he met Bunny Livingston, Peter McIntosh and Junior Braithwaithe with whom he formed the The Wailers. Braithwaithe left the group after some time. From the early '60s, they had all attended the informal sessions at the yard of Joe Higgs, who became their mentor. In 1962, Bob Marley recorded a few tracks for producer Leslie Kong but these weren't successful. Late 1963 The Wailers auditioned at the legendary Studio One. For Studio One producer Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd they cut some excellent sides such as Simmer Down, Put It On and the first (ska) version of One Love. In February 1966, Bob left Jamaica for the United States to live with his mother. After eight months he returned to Jamaica with sufficient funds to start his own label. After some self produced material including songs such as Nice Time, Mellow Mood and Hypocrites, The Wailers started to work with producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry in the late '60s. These sessions resulted in some of the finest material recorded by The Wailers including tracks like Soul Rebel, Duppy Conqueror and 400 Years. After The Wailers found out that Perry sold the material to Trojan Records in the UK their relationship was soon terminated. Via a link with singer Johnny Nash and Danny Simms, The Wailers recorded a single for CBS Records, Reggae On Broadway, which failed. The single made The Wailers reach up in London where they visited Chris Blackwell's company Island Records. Blackwell had been very successful releasing Jamaican music since the early '60s in the UK and started to expand to pop and rock acts. Blackwell gave The Wailers and advance of 4,000 Pounds to record an album in Jamaica. Many people told him that he would never see a cent back from the money he gave to The Wailers. When Blackwell visited Jamaica a few months after, he proved the opposite. At Harry J. Studio he found out that The Wailers invested every cent in this album. In 1972, Catch A Fire was released as The Wailer's debut album for Island Records. The tracks which were recorded in Jamaica had been overdubbed by Blackwell in the UK with rock musicians and Blackwell also marketed the album as a rock album by packing it in a sleeve in the form of a Zippo lighter. Along the way, both Peter and Bunny left The Wailers and the group became known as Bob Marley & The Wailers releasing legendary albums on Island such as Natty Dread, Babylon By Bus, the excellent Live, Rastaman Vibration and of course masterpiece Exodus. Bob Marley & The Wailers toured the world extensively and during their 1980 tour they pulled large crowd. In Italy they even performed in front of 100,000 people. Towards the end of the year Bob fell ill and cancer had been identified. On May 11, 1981 Bob Marley died, after he had been granted Jamaica's Order of Merit as a reward for his achievements for his mother land Jamaica. Bob was given a state funeral.
This double cd offers 40 cover versions of Bob Marley & The Wailers tunes. It's released by The Dutch Reggae Goldmine ( a division of Smith & Co Sound & Vision), a label which will be dedicated to releasing classic reggae material from as many sources as possible both in the form of single artist and multi-artist compilation CD's and 12 inch vinyl singles. The album is compiled by reggae fanatic Michael "Mikey B" Bakker.
No surprises here. All songs are tunes written in the sixties and first half of the seventies, and represent the best of what the band has recorded. The following parts are the excellent liner notes written by Danny 'Pepperseed' Bouten.
The distinctive voice of Horace Andy can be heard on numerous reggae classics for producers such as Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, Edward 'Bunny' Lee, Everton DaSilva and Lloyd 'Bullwackie' Barnes. Since the early '90s, Horace is also a regular guest performer with the Bristol based triphop collective Massive Attack. On this heavy riddim track Horace covers the great Natural Mystic.
Johnny Clarke was the big hit maker for producer Bunny Lee in the second half of the '70s, the period that Bob Marley & The Wailers gained their huge international audience. Johnny's repertoire included some excellent self penned tracks as well as cover versions of popular Jamaican songs, amongst them some Bob Marley songs as well. Here Johnny can be heard singing Crazy Baldhead on a tough riddim track laid by Bunny Lee's session band The Aggrovators.
Derrick Morgan is one of Jamaica's first recording stars who worked with legendary producers such as Arthur 'Duke' Reid, Prince Buster and Lesley Kong. Morgan takes on Bob's classic No Woman No Cry and transforms it into Some Woman Must Cry, about men who don't care for their women.
Initially, I Shot The Sheriff became a big pop hit in the version of Eric Clapton, after he heard the song on a Jamaican radiostation which he picked up in the US. This is the version by The Blues Busters, the most popular and vocally distinguished Jamaican male duo in the late 50s, early 60s. Their refined harmonies set a benchmark for aspiring newcomers on the Jamaican music scene such as Keith 'Slim' Smith, Ken Boothe and The Melodians. This version was recorded in the '70s for producer Byron Lee.
Bob Marley used Lively Up Yourself as a tune to move the crowd during stageshows. This version is recorded by Byron Lee & The Dragonaires. Byron Lee, a band leader whose music was usually aimed at the middle class and tourists, is still performing today, mainly focusing at soca, another popular style of music in the Caribbean. Lee is also the owner of Dynamic Sounds, one of the largest music distributors and pressing plants in the Caribbean.
Excuse my while I light my spliff, Johnny Clarke is skanking it easy on this Bunny Lee produced version of the song. The inspiration from ganja (marihuana), a sacred herb in the Rastafarian view, is evident on this one.
Another song inspired by ganja, Bob recorded it twice. The first time for Lee Perry and later on he produced it himself as the title track for the Kaya album which was released on Island Records in 1978. This version is by The Itals' leadsinger Ronnie Davis produced by Bunny Lee. Also featured here is the dub version mixed at King Tubby's studio and played by Lee's studioband The Aggrovators.
Small Axe was a big dancehall hit at the time for The Wailers, originally produced by genius Lee 'Scratch' Perry with the Hippy Boys on the riddim track featuring the future Wailers Carlton and Aston 'Family Man' Barrett on drums and bass. Here Beres Hammond and Mikey Zappow can be found together on a remake of the tune. Currently, Beres Hammond is one of the finest reggae singers around, riding high on the reggae/dancehall charts.
One of the most popular Bob Marley songs is One Love. The song welded together with Cutis Mayfield's People Get Ready. Bob originally recorded it as a ska version in 1965 at Studio One. The cut featured on the legendary Exodus album became a big worldwide smash hit in 1984 after it was included on the Legend compilation. Bunny Lee is at the control on this Johnny Clarke version of the unofficial Jamaican National Anthem.
Cornell Campbell is around in the Jamaican recording business since the early '60s. As a member of The Uniques and The Eternals, he recorded some great tunes in the rocksteady era. In the mid '70s, Campbell made great impact on the Jamaican dancehall scene with a string of hits for Bunny Lee. Campbell's distinguished Curtis Mayfield-tinged falsetto voice can be heard on this version of Concrete Jungle which was originally part of The Wailers' Catch A Fire album, their debut set for Island Records.
Sweet voiced Jamaican balladeer Wilfred 'Jackie' Edwards recorded one of the first albums for Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. His compositions Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me were recorded by The Spencer Davis Group. Jackie also worked for Bunny Lee for whom he voiced this cover version of the Bob Marley classic Stir It Up.
Another ska original recorded by The Wailers during their period at Studio One.
Another version of I Shot The Sheriff, this time done by Glen Ricks. Born in Jamaica but raised in Canada, Glen Ricks started his career when he joined The Fabulous Flames. They scored a hit for producer Clancy Eccles with their version of Neil Diamond's Holly Holy. In Canada he recorded two deep-soul albums and in the early '90s he returned to Jamaica to work with dancehall producers such as Sly & Robbie, Bobby 'Digital' Dixon and Phillip 'Fattis' Burrell.
Cornell Campbell is featured again, this time with the song with which Bob Marley took his ghetto mood to the uptown community. On the Jamaican release the song was entitled Knotty Dread. Jamaican pronunciation give it a sound which is identical to Natty Dread and which is basically the opposite of the actual meaning.
The great Delroy Wilson takes on Sun Is Shining. The original version of the song with the haunting melodica refrain played by Peter Tosh was recorded for Lee Perry. Later on Bob re-cut the song for his Kaya album. In recent times the song climbed the pop charts in the dance remix of Funk Star Deluxe.
The sweet voice of Jackie Edwards is featured once more, this time on So Jah Say, a tune written by Bob's wife Rita Anderson and originally featured on the Natty Dread album.
One of Bob's best known songs is No Woman No Cry. The song is co-written by Vincent Ford one of Bob's brethren from Trenchtown, the Kingston ghetto area where Bob grew up. In the '90s, the song was recorded by popular hiphop collective The Fugees featuring Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Pras Michael.
Simmer Down was the debut release for The Wailers, produced by Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd of Studio One. The song was a massive hit, especially on the Jamaican sound systems and sold more than 80,000 copies.
This '90s cut of The Wailers' classic Put It On was recorded at the same era when Chaka Demus & Pliers scored big pop hits with tracks such as Tease Me and Twist & Shout. The riddim track features the distinctive drum patterns of ace drummer Lowell 'Sly' Dunbar.
This Lee 'Scratch' Perry produced original featured the crisp and militant sound of the Wailers, which was to become their international trademark. Soul Rebel was a popular track in the Jamaican dancehalls and with this song the Wailers made their first steps from the downtown ghetto of Trenchtown to uptown Kingston. This version features the voice of Cornell Campbell.
Love song Don't Rock My Boat is also known as Satisfy My Soul. Originally recorded for Lee Perry, Bob later re-recorded it to be included on the Kaya album. In 1978, the song became a hit after it was lifted as a single from the Kaya album. Featured version here is Max Romeo's. Max Romeo scored a big pop hit in the UK with the controversial Wet Dream for producer Bunny Lee. In the mid '70s, Romeo worked with Lee Perry at Perry's legendary Black Ark studio and recorded tracks such as Sipple Out Deh/War Ina Babylon, One Step Forward and Chase The Devil, which was used by The Prodigy for their '90s dance hit Outerspace.
Hypocrites is an all time Wailers' favourite. The riddim track for Hypocrites has been versioned a lot amongst others by Lloyd 'King Jammy' James snr. who produced Half Pint's Mr. Landlord, a massive dancehall hit riding the Hypocrites riddim track. In 2002, Jammy's son John John used the same cut featuring contemporary dancehall artists such as Bounti Killa, Capleton, Sizzla and Luciano. This version is by Glen Ricks, followed by the deejay version courtesy of Dillinger, who recorded some of his best works at Channel One studio for owner Joseph 'Jo Jo' Hookim and his brother Ernest. In 1977, Dillinger scored a massive pop hit with Cocaine In My Brain.
No Water is another track recorded by The Wailers for producer Lee Perry. Max Romeo takes on the song on the original cut of the riddim track as are the other Max Romeo songs featured on this album.
In 1966, Bob Marley moved to Delaware in the United States after his mother sent him a ticket. The day before Bob left Jamaica for the US, he married to Rita Anderson. Bob returned to Jamaica after eight months in the same year with sufficient funds to set up his own label Wail 'N' Soul. Nice Time was one of the first tracks he recorded after his return to Jamaica. Glen Ricks' vocal cut of the track is followed U Brown's deejay version. U Brown is a deejay artist inspired by the style of foundation deejay U-Roy.
Johnny Clarke and foundation deejay artist U-Roy take on Put It On and transform it into Feel Jah Spirit by translating Bob's lyrics into the Rastafarian terminology. The riddim track features The Aggrovators in fine style, utilizing the flying cymbal sound, which had been developed by drummer Carlton 'Santa' Davis for producer Bunny Lee to contrast the sound of other producers at that time.
The stone that the builders refuse is gonna be the head corner stone. Once more an original Perry production featuring Perry's session band The Upsetters on the riddim track. Later, members of The Upsetters formed The Wailers.
In the time Thank You Lord was written, Bob was becoming increasingly spiritual, learning about Rastafari from his wife Rita. Similar to the other Glen Ricks' tracks on this album, Thank You Lord is using the original riddim track used by The Wailers. The deejay version is courtesy of Dennis Alcapone, together with U-Roy one of the foundation deejay artists.
Keep On Moving is actually a Curtis Mayfield composition. The song was recorded twice by Bob for Lee Perry. In 1969, the track was recorded for the first time together with tracks such as Soul Rebel, Duppy Conqueror and Soul Shake Down Party. Perry sold the tracks to Trojan Records and they immediately released the tracks on the African Herbsman and Soul Rebel albums. After The Wailers found out about these releases, their relationship with Perry immediately ended. In 1977, Marley re-recorded the tune with Lee Perry in London during his stay there after the assault on Marley in his house on 56 Hope Road in Kingston, Jamaica. This time the band was formed by members of ace UK reggae group Aswad and members of Third World. Max Romeo delivers his version of the song, which is featured here in the vocal and the (dub) version.
Screw Face know who fi frighten. Cornell Campbell is singing in the same style as Bob did, but still Campbell's distinctive falsetto can be recognized.
Mellow Mood is one of Bob's finest songs and has been covered by many Jamaican artists including I-Trees members Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths. Mellow Mood is presented here in a version excursion style, three the hard way. Glen Ricks' vocal is followed by Jah Stitch' deejay cut and (dub) version. In 1998, dancehall producer Bobby 'Digital' Dixon re-cut the riddim track and voiced Morgan Heritage's Reggae Bring Back Love on it.