Opening Statement

Sunday 7 September 2014

Bob Marley 3: Soul Rebels + Reggae Revolution [1971-72]

More Bob Marley + the Wailer Reviews: Part 1 is Here! Part 2 is There! Part 4 is There!

Bob Marley + The Wailers "Soul Rebel" Lp: Sex + Revolution!

For their third Wailers album “Soul Rebel” [1971] [Here] the group turned to maverick Kingston producer Lee "Scratch" Perry [Info] for creative and technical assistance. Like the Wailers, Perry was interested in fusing American funk with Jamaican music. He shared their growing interest in the spiritual themes of Rastafari. Also the politics of black power as developed through the Wailers recent “revolutionary soul” styled 45 singles, most notably the 1969 “Black Progress” single and tracks such as “Soul Captives “Caution” “Stop That Train” and  “Can’t You See” from the 1970 “Best of The Wailers” album. In addition Perry’s crack studio band the Upsetters [Infohad a new, hard edged reggae sound. They especially liked and felt their recordings needed the Upsetter's hypnotic, driving rhythm [“Riddim”] visa the bass and drum section provided by Carlton “Carlie” and Aston “Family Man Barrett”.

On the whole, Perry stripped down the Wailers sound to its bare essentials. Bob, Peter and Bunny's voices were each pushed forward in the mix and recorded on separate microphones. The tempo and beat was still slowed down further from the frantic ska and rock steady sound of their earlier recordings. The bass guitar was pushed forward in the mix as a lead instrument. The horns were pared back considerably. The new “riddim” section was added. Then the entire “Soul Rebel” album was spontaneously voiced in one day, with the emphasis being upon the Wailers soulful James Brown + Temptation's stylized vocals and the poignancy of their lyrics.  Last but not least, for the first time on album the band was now named “Bob Marley +the Wailers”, quite possibly a point of contention for Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in the years to come!

Vinyl A Side

The “Soul Rebel” songs were arranged on the album in the order they were recorded. The title track “Soul Rebel” [ Hear ]opens side one with Marley declaring himself to be a man in touch with the natural world, as per his recent conversion to the Rastafari religion. He is now the “natty dread”, an outsider from “Babylon”, observing the evils of the modern world all around him. It was now firmly established that the Wailers social justice themes from the “Soul Rebel” album onwards would increasingly deal directly with the themes of black consciousness, and the politics of freedom from oppression for all “sufferahs” around the world, more so than romance.

In “Try Me” [not the James Brown song] Marley is the sacrosanct black “soul man”, a loving protector of all that is seemingly good in the world. Elsewhere on the album, “Cornerstone” [Hear] is a biblical reference to Psalm 118:22 the stone that the builder refused as the rock upon which greatness is later built. Perhaps he is addressing Jamaica’s questionable place in the world after British independence in 1962. Or maybe he’s just the rejected lover, who will later prove to be the cornerstone of his partner’s happiness. In each case the personal struggle also serves as a parable and microcosm of the troubled modern age. Either way Marley offers a message of hope to the dejected and downtrodden that, “The stone that the builder refuse will always be the head cornerstone”.

On “400 Years” [Hear] Tosh similarly focuses on freeing oneself, in this case from a slave mentality, with a ferocious cry for the oppressed black peoples to arise and shake off the shackles of the slave mindset. However the uprising he advocates here is not merely a racial struggle against a white oppressor. Rather he speaks of the shaking off the internal mental demons resulting from slavery, which in eradicating their original culture and beliefs, have held the black people back from realizing their true self-worth and potential nigh on 400 years now. Indeed in “Duppy Conqueror” [Hear] the current hit single but a non-album track, the Wailers proclaimed that if any evil forces or demons [in slang terms a "Duppy"] comes to test them, they will be able to conquer the duppy with their cunning, spiritual power and strength.

Vinyl B Side

If the Wailers increasing use of Rastafari religious references [Info] seems overbearing by today’s standards, remember also that many young people during the 60’s and 70’s were seeking spiritual fulfillment in what they perceived as an increasingly godless, oppressive and meaningless world. We have ex-Beatle George Harrison’s religious conversion to Krishna [for example in his songs “My Sweet Lord”, “What is Life” All Things Must Pass”, and “Living in a Material World” etc. etc. etc.]. Bob Dylan too [on his “Gotta Serve Somebody’ 45 and the other tracks from his “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved" albums”] 

In Bob Marley and the Wailers case, the chief Rastafari sacrament, if you will, was smoking Ganja [ marijuana] which was considered central to spiritual growth, and communion with Jah [God]. Also as a way to reason [philosophize] and become wise. Consider the relative youthful appeal of all three religions: fundamentalist bible thumping,  chanting Krishna or the Rasta practice of smoking Ganga for spiritual enlightenment:  Bob Marley and the Wailers Rastafari practices and themes could certainly prove a winner on the international pop and underground rock scene they hoped to reach during the rest of the decade ahead!

Musically speaking however, the Wailers still needed an allusive international hit album to widely reach such an audience. “Soul Rebel” would continue to adapt the American black soul sound with Jamaican reggae in hopes of closing the breach.  In the funky “It’s Alright”, Marley comes across stylistically like a Ganga smoking Jamaican version of James Brown. In “Soul Almighty” [Hear] Bob manages to name check two US dance styles, the mashed potato [See] and the funky chicken [See] in a smoking Rufus Thomas R+B and soul groove. 

Back cover: Check out Wailers African Hippie gear!

“Rebel Hop” [Hear] manages a medley of hits, quite popular at the time, matching Bob Marley singing the Wailers hit “Rude Boy” with Bunny Wailer singing the Motown Temptations” Cloud 9”. In “Reaction” Marley’s soulful stoned slur is drenched in the religious rapture of perhaps having smoked too much weed, a new stylistic trademark for him. If not outright stated the Ganga references were clearly implicit throughout the sound and style of the album.

Finally Soul Rebels closing track “My Sympathy” is an instrumental version of Tosh’s "400 Years" rather than a new song. As we shall see, such instrumentals would soon morph into the Dub style B sides of the Wailers hit 45’s, long before the style had become a major new musical movement in its own rite.

Lee "Scratch Perry" tried to further define a clear band image with international appeal employing his controversial design for the “Soul Rebel” album cover. We see a rather risque black woman [with her nipples airbrushed out] decked out in rebel gear [uniform and a machine gun] standing in front of a photo backdrop of Dunn’s Falls [the tourist attraction] in Jamaica. Forget that she was actually a staffer in the Trojan Record offices photographed in an upstairs backroom studio in London. The image emphasizes two timely Wailer themes that Perry figured had a lot of international appeal: sex and revolution! Left to their own designs, the Wailers got to create the back cover of the album showing them with their new short dreadlocks, dressed in stylish hippie like African print outfits. The Wailers as Soul Rebels: Sex, revolution and Ganga! But would it click?

All the pieces in the Lee "Scratch" Perry “Soul Rebel” package seem to have provided a good fit and winning formula for the Wailers. Unfortunately the 1971 album would only initially get released in Jamaica. Even there it initially met with middling success. Basically, the Wailers remained but a hit local band with a wave of non-album best selling singles, among them: “Duppy Conqueror [Hear ]”, "Small Axe"[Hear]. “Trench Town Rock” [Hear], “Concrete Jungle”, “Screw Face”, “Redder Than Red” and “Lick Samba”.

It is these 45’s which helped establish the Wailer's new reggae style [Info] in Jamaica anyway. They also began playing their own instruments along with the Upsetter’s Carley and Aston Family Man Barrett on bass and drums. Marley started playing guitar, Tosh guitar, keyboards and bass, with Bunny on bass and percussion on these recordings.

Singer Johnny Nash had a hit with Bob's "Stir It Up" first! [1972]

Furthermore it is ironic that other tracks Bob had wrote and recorded during the “Rebel Soul” and its follow up "Soul Revolution” album would provide hits for other international stars if not the Wailers; “Stir It Up” [Hear] for Johnny Nash, and Barbara Streisand’s version of “Guava Jelly” [Hear] among others. Also noteworthy: Tosh’s "400 Years" would later receive a do over on the "Burning" album. Also the “Soul Rebels” album cover remains an often overlooked piece of pure early 1970’s rock schlock despite its questionable good taste. Undaunted the Wailers would return to the studio with producer Lee Scratch Perry for one more shot at a still allusive breakthrough album.

Verdict: Soul Rebels is another very important Wailers transitional album. Vocally, thematically and instrumentally the new template was set even if the album itself missed the target sales wise internationally or back home in Jamaica. Nonetheless it’s a noble effort and a good reggae soul record well worth a listen. I really don’t think a good Bob Marley and the Wailers collection would be complete without a copy of this album!

Trojan mini lp box set: "Best of ..." "Soul Rebel" Soul Revolution 2" "Soul Revolution Dub"

JAD/UM has released a CD version of “Soul Rebel”, complete with a remaster giving it a modern day digital sheen. Trojan Sanctuary have also rereleased it in a cardboard mini album sleeve that faithfully replicates the original cover. It is a part of a 4 cd Wailers “Soul Revolutionaries” box set containing “Best of the Wailers [1970], “Soul Revolution 2” [1971] and “Soul Revolution Dub” [1972]. Sound wise, this version of “Soul Rebel” is a bit murkier if not more authentic compared to the original vinyl record. Shop around online for a reasonably priced copy of the set and you won’t be upset!

Fortunately Trojan UK has also rereleased “Soul Rebels” as a vinyl LP. The sound is more even faithfully authentic than the CD release, the former of which you might’ve guessed I prefer best. A large cover, with an A Side and a B side track arrangement lets you to best experience a record album as it as originally conceived and released. The bass is full, with a clear well rounded and warm "riddim" section and the soaring ethereal vocals of all three Wailers sound great. You can find a vinyl copy online or perhaps at a specialty vinyl record store. They seem to be popping up again so check them out where you live. Two thumbs up for the vinyl album for sure!


"Soul Revolution 2": Check out the toy guns this time!

Since Perry considered “Soul Rebel” to be the first “Soul Revolution” album, it must’ve made sense to him, and if hardly anyone else to name the next album he’d produce for Bob Marley and the Wailers “Soul Revolution 2” [Hear]. However, as the name implies, the album continues to consolidate the Wailers new reggae riddim and soul reggae sound from the “Soul Rebel” album. The themes of sex, and revolution remain consistent too. As for the Ganga references, they are more direct throughout. [I.e. on “Kaya”, “African Herbsman”]

With a light hearted reference to the “Soul Rebel” album cover’s revolution theme, the front and back cover art of “Soul Revolution 2” now instead shows the Wailers pose menacingly Rude Boy style, but this time with toy guns. Perhaps a wise move considering the increasingly brutal police crackdown on ghetto protesters in Kingston and the US war against communism being felt around the world during the early 70’s? 

Be that as it may, "Soul Revolution 2" would finally score the Wailers an album release in both Jamaica and the UK. Slowly but surely from here on in, Bob Marley and the Wailers would begin to gain street credibility as an incredibly cool up and coming underground band poised for international success.

Original Jamaican LP on Maroon: A Side

“Soul Revolution 2” begins with a Marley vocal tour de force on the Wailer style version of the soulful Curtis Mayfield song, “Keep on Moving” [Hear]. It’s a typical anti hero story about a lone gunman on the run from the law, a continuance of the rebellion theme. It’s the misunderstood and badly maligned “sufferah” fighting back against oppression and social injustice similar to Wailers earlier “Rude Boy” theme. Consider it a precursor of the bands upcoming classic “I Shot the Sheriff” track on the “Burning” album. Also the number one US comeback hit for Eric Clapton, the rock guitarist formerly named God, whose version would rocket Bob Marley and the Wailers to world renown! For now however, “Keep On Moving” would result in another best-selling 45 for the Wailers back home in Jamaica where the theme resonated only too well.

“Put it On” [Hear]: This second version of the song remains a classic tale of “I rule my destiny”, echoing the theme of the Wailers “Rude Boy” 1965 hit single in which the listener is encouraged to “Walk the proud land with me.” Another fine outing that would finally be definitively nailed down for good on the "Burning" album too!

Also noteworthy in the “re do” column: Bunny takes the lead on “Don’t Rock the Boat” [Hear]. Was it a tongue in cheek tale of caution for the would be rebel, or simply a love song? Or both? The track would later be rerecorded as “Satisfy My Soul” on the “Kaya” album. It is interesting that another version of the tune, with a different lead vocal would be released at the time of the album release as another Wailer hit 45.

Maroon Records B Side

Likewise a fourth version of the Wailers “Duppy Conqueror” hit, mostly an instrumental for reasons unknown is included for the first but not the last time on a Wailers album. It too would later be rerecorded for the "Burning" album. Peter Tosh weighs in with a melodica keyboard instrumental on "Memphis". The Wailers were now becoming increasingly involved in not only arranging but also in playing the instruments on their records, a harbinger of greater records to come. Also note that this track is the only one by Peter Tosh included on this latest album by “Bob Marley + the Wailers”. On “Soul Rebel" he had been allowed three.

“African Herbsman” [Hear] is a rewrite of a Richie Haven's song with an obvious reference to marijuana. Consider it a Wailer's tip of the hat to the pot smoking international underground music scene which the band needed to attract before international stardom could be theirs! Likewise “Kaya” [Hear] is a thinly disguised ode to the herb, in this case a strain of the weed traditionally used by the Rasta Bush Doctor for healing purposes, so to speak. It would later be re-recorded for inclusion on the album of the same name.

Unlike most artists Bob Marley and the Wailers would often rerecord and re-release many numerous studio versions of their various songs as they reworked them towards musical and lyrical perfection. As such much of their early work can indeed be considered as working versions of the greater more well-known records yet to come.

Bunny Wailer: Cooler than cool!

Bunny again sings lead vocals on “Riding High” [Hear] a romantic ode to a reluctant girl whom he fancies. Marley also contributed a more risqué number with “Stand Alone” [Hearin which he bemoans wife Rita’s apparent infidelities. Considering that Bob had at least 11 children, but only 4 with his wife his machismo seems to blind him to the songs inherent contradictions. Nonetheless the album is not without its brand of sex and romance with the inclusion of these two songs.

Marley’s “Sun is Shining”, seems like an unfinished musical improvisation that makes little clear lyrical sense. However it has a hauntingly beautiful melody seemingly borrowed from the Gershwin classic “Summertime”. He would later revisit the song again on the “Kaya” album.

"Soul Revolution 2" Album back cover

“Brainwashed”[Hear]: Bunny’s third song closes the album. It reiterates the Wailer's mental slavery theme from “Rebel Soul”. The black listener is warned to not believe the rubbish they were taught about themselves and their place in the world visa vis the fairy tale and nursery rhyme self images they were force fed as children.

Verdict: "Soul Revolution 2" is the template upon which all future Bob Marley and the Wailer albums would be based. Sound wise it gracefully nails down the bands new harder edged reggae riddim sound with a dash of soul. It is firmly branded with the Wailers trademark themes of sex, revolution and Ganga. Unfortunately perhaps, it also emphasizes Bob Marley not only in the band’s name on the album, but also with the predominant role given to his songs and vocal talents. It’s good to see Bunny finally get three songs on the album at least. Still, with everything else in place, Bob Marley and the Wailers were now ready for a serious crack at the big times! As such it is an essential album for your collection!

Indeed, Trojan Records [Info] agreed to release "Soul Revolution 2" in the UK. Although more of a curio than a big hit, its reggae sound and hip style resonated with the underground crowd looking for something new in music. The Wailers had finally earned a toehold on the international market! The album also sold well in Jamaica, bolstering the bands album street credibility there now too. With a leading edge record album and new sound the Wailers were now firmly ensconced at the head of the Jamaican music pack.

Soul Revolution 2 Dub Version

Lee "Scratch" Perry

Producer Lee "Scratch Perry" Perry was so pleased with the albums success that he decided to produce a very limited edition Dub version of the album for the club DJ’s and radio stations in Jamaica to play. It too was titled “Soul Revolution 2” [Sample], and used the same cover, then when they ran out, just a blank one creating a lot of confusion for record collectors in the years ahead.

Basically, Perry remixed the album by removing the Wailers vocal tracks to recreate a bare bone instrumental version of the songs. It also featured a very faint and ghostly Wailers vocal track that was only vaguely apparent in the background where the vocals had originally bled over into the instrumental tracks during the recording process.

The idea was that the "Soul Revolution" dub versions could be used as instrumental tracks for the Jamaican DJ’s to rap over in between songs. Perry did not invent dub. It was already a trend in Jamaica. In retrospect, it might not even really be considered a dub record since it lacks the more sophisticated special remixes and sound effects used today. However, with the Upsettters strong bass and drum “riddim” section the parallel with today’s bass and drum music is very self-evident. Perry was definitely ahead of the times in popularizing and then later on developing the new dub style [Info] much further, as did Bunny Wailer, but more on Bunny’s future efforts later in our discography.

Bob, Peter + Bunny

As For Perry, he had a falling out with the Wailers after they belatedly learned that he had sold the rights to the album to Trojan Records in the UK for 18,000 lbs. They of course wanted their share, which they believed was based upon a verbal agreement that Perry and the band would each get a 50/50 split of the sales. A fist fight and a formal end to Perry’s role as Bob Marley + the Wailers producer resulted when he denied that any such agreement existed. Bob and he would continue to informally work together on some of Marley’s musical ideas but Lee "Scratch" Perry’s prolific role in our Bob Marley and the Wailers discography was over.

It is also noteworthy that Perry pocked the sales of the dub version of "Soul Revolution" for himself, arguing that he had already paid the Upsetters for the session work on its instrumental tracks and as for the Wailers, well their vocal tracks had been removed from the album. Ironically when the Wailers left they took the Upsetter’s Barret brothers bass and drum riddim section with them. Tired of using hired guns on guitar Bob and Peter would from now on play themselves with Bunny sometimes on bass, other times on percussion. The lineup for the classic Wailers band was now firmly in place and the bands greatest and best known albums were soon to follow.

Lee "Scratch" Perry : acrylic on canvas by Maria Rodsky

Both JAD/ UM and Trojan have released cd versions of "Soul Revolution 2" and the "Dub Version" of the album. As with the earlier Wailers soul recordings I personally prefer the Trojan releases for their more authentic sound. The clear digitally remastered JAD UM releases however, are more “cleaner”. It really depends upon your own aesthetic in deciding which to purchase. Myself? I need both!

The Trojan "Soul Revolutionaries" box set remains an essential buy as it includes all four of the Wailers 1970-72 albums in mini cardboard replica covers with the original tracks intact in the original running order. JAD UM has also released copies of both "Soul Revolution" albums. A few bonus tracks are added on at the end of the "Soul Rebel" + "Soul Revolution" albums. Their newly remasterd dub version of the "Soul Revolution" Dub version has been retitled “Upsetter Revolution Rhythm”. The track listings are identical to the original album with a bonus alternate "Kaya" dub remix added. All of these releases shouldn’t be hard to find for sale at a reasonable price online, especially in the New + Used listings on

Wailer Discography: 1967-72 Collections

As I’ve repeatedly emphasized, the Wailers were originally first and foremost a singles band until the early 1970’s. It is also noteworthy that they released their music spread out on quite a few labels including their own Wailin’ Soul [Info] and Tuff Gong [Info] ones. In addition there was a wealth of other lesser known and officially unreleased recordings from this period. In an attempt to make some sense of these recordings a buyer’s guide to the best releases I’ve found follows to help complete your Bob Marley and the Wailers collection from between 1967-72.

Trojan front album cover

"African Herbsman": Lee "Scratch" Perry sold Trojan the rights to the tracks from both Soul Rebel and "Soul Revolution" although they only chose to release the latter at the time. In 1973 when Bob Marley and the Wailers really took off they decided to rerelease the "Soul Revolution" songs on a new album, with a different track order and include some of the Wailers best 45s from this era. [ Hear Album ]

Trojan record label with logo

Despite the rather rather crass commercial intentions the album nonetheless became many UK fans first exposure to the Wailers earlier recordings. It remains a fan favourite for that reason through until today. In 2003 Trojan re-released "African Herbsman" on CD with 10 bonus tracks, including some of the dub versions and a few more singles. While hardly indispensable it is a fun listen and will have nostalgic value for anyone who might’ve originally purchased it in 1973. However I myself am much fonder of the warmer sound on their vinyl reissue of the original "African Herbsman" album.

"African Herbsman" vinyl record: The back cover with original track listings.

“Ammunition Dub Collection” [JAD UM] is a collection of a lot of later dub versions of the Wailer tracks from this period. Some are pretty cool, others are hardly essential. A fun but not necessary disc to own unless you are a completest or especially interested in Lee "Scratch" Perry’s early experiments in dub.

“Wailin n’ Soul’m Singles Selecta” [JAD UM] includes the 45’s released on the Wailers first record label and sold from their own Kingston record shop. Nice sound. Lots of classic tracks. I’d say this is a must have. See the review under part 1 of my Wailers discography.

45 Vinyl Box Set

The 2 CD “Complete Upsetter Singles 1970-72 Plus Dubs” [Cleopatra] is pretty complete as far as the Upsetter label goes. It also includes many missing dub versions which is pretty cool. However Upsetter did not release all of the Wailer's big Jamaican hits during this period. 

Most of these same tracks are already available on the other albums I’ve reviewed. Therefore it’s an overall a rather spotty collection of Wailer 45’s, which perhaps outside of a few rare dub sides and variations you will also easily find elsewhere. If you see it for cheap, snatch it up. If not, you might want to pass on this one. There is also a vinyl collection with 6 of the 45’s with their correct dub B B-sides, which seems tantalizing if not expensive. I have yet to hear the records myself so will reserve judgment. If you have heard them please don’t hesitate to provide your own review for us in the Comments section below this blog!

“127 King Street” [JAD UM] This fabulous disc includes the missing 45’s from above, and what songs they are! While success continued to evade the Wailers for most of 1970-72 they continued to bat out great non album singles that sold very well in Jamaica often on their own Tuff Gong label. These are also some of the first tracks that the Wailers played on as well as sing. "Screw Face", "Lick Samba", "Trench Town Rock", "Concrete Jungle"; they are all here. Buy this CD!

"Original Cuts" [JAD UM]: Now here’s a handy collection of two dozen early versions of the songs Bob Marley + the Wailers would later rerecord on their more famous well known albums. A few rare dub sides are also thrown in for good measure. Regretfully, the linear notes, while interesting and tastefully done only provide a brief outline of when the different versions featured here were actually recorded. Tut tut! Nonethess, this is an essential disc. It’s great to have the tunes altogether on one cd and is a very listenable and enjoyable Wailers collection.

Peter Tosh: “Can’t Blame the Youth” [UM Jad] These tracks are a must have. The CD includes Peter Tosh’s solo and Wailer tracks from the 1969-72 period. One often forgets Peter was a major reggae artist in his own rite. As such these tracks are absolutely indispensable. “Arise Blackman” is included here, as are the hits “Mega Dog”, and the Rude Boy classic “Them a Fi Get A Beatin’”. 

Equally delicious is the title track and “Here Comes the Judge”. Basically Peter attacks the slave mentality issue with no bars hold. While the Jamaican Rude Boys were being held to a very high moral standard for their acts of rebellion, Peter asks why the Jamaican youth weren’t being taught in school that many of their so called national heroes were actually slave traders, and pirates. On "Here Comes the Judge" they are one by one put on trial for their crimes in a hilarious court room send up that is worth the price of the disc alone. Do not hesitate to buy this disc!

Peter Tosh: “Arise Black Man” [Trojan] There’s some overlap here as the CD includes the title song as well as “Them a Fi Get a Beating”. Although it omits “Here Comes the Judge” we are treated to a lot of very rare Tosh tracks including the “Mega Dog” variations, a “Rudies Melody”, The Return of Capone”, “Downpresser” [a big solo hit for Peter previously recorded by the Wailers as “Sinner Man”!] “Selassie Serenade” [The Rasta Theme again] and Peter's lesser known solo work with Lee "Scratch" Perry! This is a helluva fun disc with all sorts of oddities and forgotten greats. I’d recommend getting both of these Tosh CD’s if you can find them for a good price.

Box Sets: There are a number of discs arranged in box sets and sold independently as single CDs covering the many recordings variations, experiments and lesser known tracks that the Wailers recorded during their 1967-72 soul period. These are definitely for the hard core fan and can be quite pricey even and hard to find. However the sound quality is usually quite good and you can learn a lot by examining these tracks as the artists audio note pad of ideas and musical directions if you will. I have decided to go with the EMI French "Complete Wailers 1967-72" sets, discs 1 to 3 and 7 to 8. As such I cannot review the other series as I am not as familiar with them but if you wish to provide a review please do so in the Comments section below or as a guest blog.

Complete Wailers 1967-72 Part 1 Discs 1-3:

Lots of alternate versions, rare singles, and obscure tracks produced by Leslie Kong and R+B singer Johnny Nash. Nash had a big hit with Marley’s "Stir it Up" [Hear] and even had Bob sing backup vocals and help with the arrangements of his number one hit “I Can See Clearly Now” [Hear]. He was a big promoter of Bob and even brought him to England and introduced him to the important music industry insiders to try to help him get a break after "Soul Revolution" was released. We are treated to the original versions of “Chances Are” and his only single release during the trip “Reggae on Broadway” [Hear]. Despite its inane lyrics the record is one huge quivering slab of hard rocking reggae funk, an experimental direction he would not try again, especially after the single went nowhere and has since been all but forgotten.

Bob Marley's UK Solo 45 Reggae on Broadway

It's interesting how Marley was ready to go it alone without the Wailers on this trip. Was it a harbinger of changes to come? The other handful of largely forgettable recordings Marley made on the trip are also included here without the ridiculous overdubs on the post death “Chances Are” album which gullible consumers were tricked into buying thinking it was a long lost Bob Marley album. Far from it. 

Equally fascinating is a little known single the Wailers recorded as a long shot at breaking into the US market: a reggae version of the Archie’s bubblegum hit “Sugar Sugar” [Hear]. No, it went nowhere, but yes, it is a whole lot of fun and kind of scary to imagine what direction the Wailers might've gone had it been a hit!? 

Some of the dub sides here grow wearisome after a while. There sure were a lot and mostly they were just the instrumental tracks from the singles. Disc 2 “Selassie in the Chapel” [Hearincludes the very rare spiritual of the same name, as well as the mega rare “Black Progress” 45 and its dub B-side, either of which justifies buying this disc!

Complete Wailers 1967-72 Part 2 Discs 4-6:

You get the complete "Soul Rebel", "Soul Revolution" + "Best of the Wailers" [1970] [see last review] albums on separate discs with the dub versions attached. Some of these would’ve been later remixes, especially the ones on "Soul Rebel", which weren't originally released at the time. Disc 6 “More Axe” includes a collection of most of the Wailer and Lee "Scratch Perry" remaining recordings, most of which you might find elsewhere but here they are all in one place. This set essentially contains most of the Perry produced recordings together in one place. If you already have the albums it is rather a waste and of course you don’t get the original album artwork. Copies are usually expensive and very hard to find so you really need to decide for yourself whether this is an essential set for your Marley collection.

Complete Wailers 1967-72 Part 3 Discs 7+8:

We hear more dub tracks and leftover recordings from the Lee "Scratch" Perry and Johnny Nash sessions. There are also rare originals, various alternate recordings and extended club remixes. This set is a bit scattered but is important to include to round out the material on the first 6 discs. It’s a fun listen, though hardly as earth shattering as set 1 or 2.

Please note that the linear notes with these discs are in French. Apparently they have a wealth of information on them, but unfortunately I don’t speak French. Maybe that won’t be a problem for you? It would be a big plus to get down to all the nitty gritty here about the sessions. Apparently an English version was later released but I have not seen it myself.

More Reading:

Smile Jamaica: my visit to Bob Marley's birth + burial place in the mountain town of 9 Miles @ Hi! Hi! Hi!

On The Beach: Everyone knows the rastaman's got the best ganga @ Yah/ Jah!

NEXT: Wailers Discography Part 4: Catchin’ Fire!

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I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!