Bob Marley and the Wailers LIVE!

16 Apr


Like so many others, I was first turned onto reggae through this album, recorded in 1975 at the Lyceum in London and released on Island records (ILPS 9376) later that year.  Although Island was originally a Jamaican label, in the seventies it had been known as much for its English rock acts (Traffic, Free, Roxy Music, Fairport, Vinegar Joe, Nick Drake, Incredible String Band) than for its black artists.

I had heard singles by Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekker of course – as well as the ‘rude reggae’ innuendo-laden novelty singles (banned on the BBC) by Judge Dread who was, remarkably the first white artist to chart in Jamaica with a reggae track).  I also knew that the genre had a significant skinhead following which (given that many skins were associated with racism and far-right politics) always seemed odd.

Nevertheless, this was a really groundbreaking collection for a lot of white teens because it was an album rather than a single song and it had rock, rather than pop credibility (different from soul or Motown – although I suppose Stevie Wonder was crossing over too).

I’d picked up on the name of Bob Marley largely through  ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ (included as track two side two here) which Eric Clapton had covered  a couple of years before.  Probably my first exposure to Bob Marley’s voice though came through the single release (which opens side two of the LP) ‘No Woman No Cry’. This is seven minutes of wonderful music which makes me smile every time I hear it.  Although written by Marley, it is credited to his friend, Vincent Ford – so that the song’s royalties could be used to support a soup kitchen that Mr Ford ran in Trenchtown.  The album is worth having for this track alone.

Apart for those tracks, the third and final song on side two is the Bob Marley/Peter Tosh song ‘Get Up, Stand Up’.

In comparison to side two, the four songs on side one are not quite as strong – although ‘Burnin’ and Lootin” and ‘Lively Up Yourself’ are fairly well known.

It’s as a collection though, including the great front cover photo,  that this album really stands up.



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