I must apologize to begin with…this is the first post I’ve made in a LOOOOOOOOONG time due to lots of extenuating circumstances, and for that, I am truly sorry. However, I’m picking myself back up and trying to get back on the horse once again, so to the followers of this blog: THANK YOU FOR BEING PATIENT!
Earlier this year I posted an article on the Website SoSoActive.com about the 40th Anniversary of the landmark album Catch A Fire by The Wailers (some say Bob Marley and the Wailers, but in keeping with accuracy, this of course was the name they were known by before Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston left the group for good.) Well, October marks the 40th Anniversary of the group’s classic follow-up album, Burnin’. And though Catch A Fire is steeped in glorious music nerd/Rock Doc glory with stories of how Chris Blackwell gave the Wailers’ the money to record the first album and could hear that every single penny had gone into creating a bona-fide masterpiece that stands the test of time, it was Burnin’ that helped put Bob, Peter, Bunny and the band on the road to musical super stardom, especially Bob himself.
Many of the songs found on Burnin’ are reworks of older Wailers tunes, some from their days with Lee “Scratch” Perry, including “Small Axe” and “Duppy Conqueror”. The sound that can be found on Burnin’ follows in the direct footsteps of Catch A Fire, though in a few places, much more desperate and militant that its predecessor, especially at the very beginning of the album. Where CAF starts of with the equally smooth and rough “Concrete Jungle”, Burnin‘ intentionally begins with the more pronounced, unforgiving and uncompromising classic, “Get Up Stand Up”. The song is a classic call-to-arms to the oppressed throughout the world to fight for their very right to live, and has become arguably the most recognizable song in the Bob Marley/Wailers catalog. Comprised of funk, rhythmic and potent words of anger and an overall message of breaking the chains, both physical and figurative, “classic” doesn’t to the song justice.
One of the most curious differences between Burnin’ and Catch A Fire is that we hear the voices on lead vocals of Bob, Bunny and Peter throughout. Peter can be heard taking the lead on “One Foundation”, while Bunny’s high-pitched wail can be found on “Hallelujah Time” and “Pass It On”. Bob, of course, gets the majority of the lead vocals on the rest of the album per Chris Blackwell’s successful attempt to make him the center of the group, much to the behest of Peter and sometimes Bunny, according to legend. And of course, the album included a number of additional notable songs, including (as previously mentioned) a masterful reworking of “Small Axe”, a traditional Rastafari chant to end the album, and another song that has become synonymous with the legend of Bob Marley, “I Shot The Sheriff”.
Soon, both Peter and Bunny, frustrated with the direction of the band, would leave to pursue their own solo careers and become Reggae legends in their own right. Their backing vocals would be replaced on the next album, Natty Dread, by Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Bob’s wife Rita Marley, collectively known as the I-Threes. And though the original line up of The Wailers was no more, the focus shifted immediately to Bob, and soon his legend would be cemented. However, it would not have been possible without the timeless creation known as Burnin’.
This is one of the most powerful Bob Marley documentaries that I’ve seen in a while, focusing on the 1977 album Exodus. It’s very curious in its structure but works pretty well by including all of the music from the album over the span of the entire year that Marley spent in London while recording the album, and also touches on some of the most important musical events of the year through images and words, including the rise of punk rock in England and disco music in America, political and cultural events involving the Queen of England, Jimmy Carter, the U.S.S.R., commentary from participants on when they were introduced to Marley and the effect of his music on their life, and so much more. In the end, this doc shows both just how important Exodus was and is to the world, and the effect that the world had on the recording of Exodus. Watch the entire documentary on YouTube at the link below: