Tuesday, 29 March 2011

29th March 2011: E:B:4

You may have noticed that I didn't put a Choose My Music request on Twitter today. This is because my partner Anna wanted to have a go and pick my listening.

To make sure there was no fixing or anything like that going on I got Anna to write down her selection - and she chose Bay E, Row B, CD 4 which lead me to this.

Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom
This is going to so weird, but as a Reggae fan and an ex Reggae buyer for Tower Records, I'm not hugely into a lot of Bob Marley's material. He definitely wasn't the reason I got into the genre - that accolade is reserved for Lee Perry & The Upsetters. But my love for all things Black Ark did eventually lead me to Bob's early career. This era and all the preceded it is covered excellently in this 4 CD box set.

Bob Marley's early career started with local 'music entrepreneur' Leslie Kong in 1962 when he recorded the ska vocal track Judge Not which had a small amount of success. Two further releases were issued on Kong's Beverley's label - but after receiving no airplay on Jamaican radio Marley decided that the best way forward was to start a vocal group.

The Wailers were soon snapped up by Coxsone Dodd who ran by far the biggest studio on the island called Studio One. Here Bob recorded some hits he would eventually re-record later in his career - and this CD contains the early cuts of One Love & Stir It Up

After releasing around 30 tracks for Studio One financial difficulties lead to the break up of the Wailers - Bob moved to America but returned 8 months later to reform the group and sign to Lee Perry's Upsetter label. It was at this point that The Wailers, with the help of Perry, laid the foundations of what was going to turn Marley in to a legend.

My favourite Wailers tracks were recorded during this era - Small Axe, Duppy Conqueror and the brilliant Mr Brown were all released under Perry.

The Perry / Marley relationship didn't last too long after Bob recruited the bassist and drummer of Perry's studio band as full time members of The Wailers - causing a rift between the two that was never resolved.

Bob Marley and The Wailers eventually signed to Chris Blackwell's Island label and this for me is where my interest in Marley ends - the driving bass heavy rhythm session was diluted after Blackwell felt that the original recording for their Island debut album 'Catch A Fire' was "too black". One remix later, to add electric piano, synthesizers and additional guitars helped to make the album appeal to a more western audience.

There is one more reason I bought this set - it ends on a live version of Redemption Song - recorded in Pittsburgh on 23rd September 1980. Bob never performed live again and passed away just 8 months later.

There is a digital version of this set on Mflow for a bargain £14.99 or you can buy a CD copy from Amazon here which is a fair bit more expensive at just shy of £30.


  1. Love small axe, easily my fave Marley song.

  2. Yeah, its a good one. Mr Brown is my all time favourite though as it is so 'Lee Perry'
    The is a Bob Marley / Upsetters 7" box set which is brilliant if you are into that sort of thing