Volume 2: Issue 7: December 2002
MARLEY TAPE AUCTIONED AT
A rare, never-before-heard Bob Marley recording will be auctioned at Christie's Auction House in New York City on Dec. 20, 2002. It will appear in Christie's catalog in mid-November. Here s a description of the tape and auction info below.
The Bob Marley Bronx Jam
The Bob Marley Bronx Jam an original audio tape recorded in 1968 represents a pivotal day in the life of one of the world's most popular musical artists.
When Bob Marley visited songwriter Jimmy Norman at his New York City apartment in early 1968, he wanted to be an American-style rhythm and blues singer. Not yet a star, Marley, then 23, had just come under contract with pop music pioneer Johnny Nash. Norman, at 31 already a veteran Tin Pan Alley composer and R&B singer, was asked by Nash to work with the promising Jamaican artist on his first trip to New York.
The day began in apartment 6-H at 2119 Valentine Avenue in the Bronx with Marley and Norman sharing songs. Marley, a fan of James Brown, wanted to learn as much from Norman as he could about R&B. Norman learned from Marley about Rock Steady, soon to evolve into Reggae. During the day, the pair worked together on eight songs. Norman played an old upright piano. Marley played his guitar. There were various instruments, including part of a drum set, in the six-room apartment and they all were used from time to time throughout the day.
That night after a long collaboration Marley; his wife, Rita; Norman; his wife, Dorothy; and his co-writer, Al Pyfrom, recorded the songs on a cassette tape recorder.
The jam session was such a success that Norman was invited by Marley to join him a week later in Jamaica to work with the Wailers on their first major recordings. Remarkably, all eight songs from the Bronx jam session recording several written by Norman and Pyfrom and several by Marley would eventually be recorded in some form for commercial release. However, they appeared on Marley s albums not as R&B, but as Reggae.
The Bronx recording is a remarkable illustration of Marley s rapid musical evolution from R&B to the Reggae sound that made him an international star. Yet, the Bronx jam is virtually unknown in Marley lore. Outside of a select group of less than a half dozen people, the tape has not been heard, and its existence is unknown to collectors within the Marley community.
The original master tape from 1968, a standard audio cassette, runs about twenty-four minutes in length and is in fragile, but playable condition. The recording was made on non-professional equipment owned and operated by Jimmy Norman.
The song list includes:
1) Wings of a Dove (I Need Your Love So Much) Bob Marley
2) Stranger on the Shore Bob Marley
3) One Love, True Love Bob Marley
4) Splish for My Splash Bob Marley
5) I m Hurting Inside Bob Marley
6) Falling In and Out of Love Jimmy Norman and Al Pyfrom
7) Stay With Me Jimmy Norman and Al Pyfrom
8) You Think I Have No Feelings Jimmy Norman and Al Pyfrom
Auction: Entertainment Memorabilia - Dec. 16
Place: Christie s New York (W. 49th St. between 5th & 6th Avenues)
Time: Dec. 20, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Viewing: Dec. 11-15 at Rockefeller Center
Inquiries: Margaret Barrett (212) 636-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Web: www.christies.com (access sale #1145 on the site starting in mid-Nov.)
To order catalog: (800) 395-6300 ask for catalog for sale #1145
Bidding Dept.: (212) 636-2436 to register to bid
MARLEY STUDIO IN
The widow of reggae legend Bob Marley plans to open a recording studio in Ghana, it is reported.
Rita Marley has bought a home some 30 miles from the capital city of Accra, where she plans to open a studio in June 2003.
She said it will be the most state-of-the-art studio in west Africa.
She has also opened a store selling her late husband's records and various reggae memorabilia. (credit: BBC)
RASTAMAN VIBRATION DELUXE
Fourth in the deluxe edition series comes the Wailers 1976 album Rastaman Vibration, the long player that finally shot Bob Marley into the US album charts.
Released in April '76, the album was promoted by the three month Rastaman Vibration tour, which took the band from the US, across Europe and concluded with a series of dates in the United Kingdom. That tour is sampled on the bonus disc via a superb 11 track performance taken from the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood - reputedly one of Marley's favourite live shows.
Rastaman Vibration captures the last moments of Marley's tenure as Jamaica's folk hero before he developed into a world wide superstar. To those with their ear to the ground, he was already a giant, but it wasn't until the following year that those slower off the mark were to latch on to his energy through the album Exodus and a set of incendiary live dates.
The Original Album
Rastaman Vibration was recorded at Harry J and Joe Gibb's studios in Kingston during the fall of 1975 and early '76 and it has even been suggested by Marley-philes that the album was in fact a set of demos. While these claims are unfounded, the finished album does indeed have a raw earthiness that evaporated on later productions.
The sessions took place shortly after Bob had briefly re-united with his old mentor, Lee "scratch" Perry. Those sessions at Perry's Black Ark studio had resulted in an early version of Natural Mystic and Rainbow Country, an embryonic arrangement of Roots Rock Reggae.
For the Rastaman Vibration album, Marley assembled what many fans believe to be his finest Wailers band. As well as the stalwarts Tyrone Downey, Wya Lindo, Seeco Patterson and the Barrett brothers, Marley added Jamaican guitar virtuoso Earl "Chinna" Smith and American guitarist Don Kinsey to the line up. Al Anderson, then favouring to work with Peter Tosh, made a cameo appearance on Crazy Baldhead.
Among the 10 tracks that made up the original vinyl are several bone fide classics; The opening Positive Vibration preaches of peace and understanding to a steady upbeat groove, with reflections of karma: "If you get down and you quarrel everyday, you're saying prayers to the devil I say."
Crazy Baldhead throbs along to a menacing Familyman bass pattern, with Bob's warlike scream at the beginning immediately grabbing the attention. A simple arrangement is strengthened by good use of percussion and delicate organ licks. The scat in the middle is expertly paraphrased by Al Anderson
The album closes with two of Bob's most militant recordings; War , with a lyric based on the speech of HIM Haile Selassie, and Rat Race, which addresses the degradation of humanity in political schemes. The album is padded out with new cuts of Cry To Me, first cut at Studio One, Night Shift a re- working of the Perry era It's Alright, and Who The Cap Fit, an update of the more obscure Man To Man.
Packaging Rastaman Vibration as part of the deluxe series has, as with most of the previous efforts, left us with mixed feelings. The first disc features an extra 8 tracks, 6 of which are previously ureleased, while disc 2 features 11 tracks from the Roxy '76 show and 2 cuts of Smile Jamaica.
Jah Live, recorded early during the album sessions, sits nicely at the end of the original running order and is presented in it's original, near split-stereo, single mix. The excellent dub version Concrete follows, leading the disc into a segment of alternate mixes. The versions of Roots Rock Reggae, Want More and Crazy Baldhead are all inferior to the released cuts, but the dub version of the former is absolutely essential. Mixed by Chris Blackwell and Dick Cuthell (the Rico and Specials hornsman) for an aborted single release, the mix breaks down the intro to Carly's one drop drumming and a stuttering guitar passage before exploding into a full force version.
The alternative version of War has long been a favourite among rarities collectors, and it's inclusion here will have many of them reaching for their wallets regardless of the other inclusions (and omissions). Although it is such a fabled recording, the track doesn't actually differ greatly from the released cut until it nears conclusion. That finale however bursts into an extra, previously unheard verse, with Marley sounding even more pasionate than on the entire previously released recording.
The second disc ties up the loose studio recordings with both parts of the Smile Jamaica single, released in November 1976. The song was originally recorded earlier at the Black Ark with Lee Perry at the control, but unfortunately Island have overlooked this cut and erroneously placed it on the re-master of Kaya. The versions that are here were cut at Harry J's studio in Kingston, and given a slower treatment with an intricate horn arrangement. The excellent dub version is presented in digital form here for the first time.
Live at the Roxy Theatre, Hollywood 1976
Recorded on the 26th of May 1976, the live set featured on disc 2 provides a splendid snapshot of the Wailers band on the promotional tour for the Rastaman Vibration album. The selection included only features 3 songs taken from the album (extended renditions of Want More, Roots Rock Reggae and Rat Race) and unfortunately omits the wonderful extended medley of War-Get Up Stand Up-No More Trouble, but the performance is one of the bands finest captured on tape, and the transistion of the material to the live stage adds another dimension.
This show has been heavily bootlegged over the years, but the sound quality here is near perfect. Although the release of this show officially is more than welcome, it has to be questioned whether this is the correct format for it. The lack of aforementioned medley is a huge disappointment, as is the absence of Positive Vibration, and given the room that could have been given over to further studio out-takes (see below), maybe releasing the whole show as a double CD on it's own would have served both Rastaman Vibration deluxe and the live show better.
As with previous deluxe releases, there are several omissions to be discussed. The most obvious is the absence of the Black Ark cut of Smile Jamaica mentioned earlier. Add to this an unreleased 12" mix of which only a handful of copies are known to exist, an unreleased dub of Crazy Baldhead as well as version sides of Rat Race and Who The Cap Fit, and all of a sudden you start to feel let down.
There are also rumours that Bob recut Trenchtown Rock and his own version of Children Playing In The Street (the song he gave to the Melody Makers) at these sessions, but there existence remains unconfirmed. Another out-take that appears to be shrouded in mystery is the song Turn Over that Bob mentioned in an interview at the time.
As it stands, the deluxe edition of Rastaman Vibration is a very worthwhile release. The booklet features a new essay by Vivien Goldman as well as photos of Bob by Neville Garrick from the session that inspired the cover art. That cover art itself is presented on a textured card sleeve, and it's nice that they have filled in the white spaces below Bob's chin that appeared on the original front sleeve painting.
So where do Island go from here? Confrontation? Kaya? Uprising or Survival? All have plenty of demos and out-takes. Just don't expect to see them all appear if they do a deluxe edition.
STUDIO ONE STORY DVD
by Andy Clayden
The long anticipated Soul Jazz documentry arrives just in time for the Christmas period, and this bumper package will certainly give enthusiast furtther cause to be merry over the holidays.
Not only does the release features the 4 hour DVD that has been previewed on a couple of Soul Jazz's earlier CDs, but a neat 100 page booklet and a 16 track audio selection covering a range of different flavours to emanate from Dodd's Downbeat studio over the years.
This compilation almost seems superfluous in the context of the whole package, as attempting to select a mere 16 tracks to represent the Studio One story from the seemingly endless list of classics and obscure gems produced by Dodd is an impossible task.
The selection that make it are, for the most part, already easily available on CD, but that doesn't diminish from the quality and enjoyment of these 16 picks. The Skatalites Guns Of Navarone is presented in it's original mix without the overdubs, and Delroy Wilson's classic Dancing Mood is also the original cut, not the later re-voice that has appeared on several compilations in recent years. Add the Abyssinians essential first cut of Deceleration Of Rights, Alton's I'm Still In Love and further cuts from Jackie Mittoo, the Heptones, Dennis Al Capone and Larry Marshall, and you are presented with a stunning showcase of talent that still falls short of getting anywhere near the whole picture.
The documentry itself is an excercise in love, dedication and ultimately excess. At three hours, with a further hour of "extras", the film is probably overly-long, and may be beyond the patience of the less committed.
The film is a simple, semi-professional affair, with the main man, Mr. Clement Dodd, talking us through the rise and later decline of his Studio One Downbeat setup in a series of on camera interviews. These are complimented by comments from the likes of Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Leonard Dillon, Sugar Minott and the amusing Eric "Rickenbacker" Frater and Earl "Bagga" Walker.
Unfortunately a somewhat one dimensional feel is present throughout the whole film, making it's 3 hour duration something of an endurance test if you wish to view it in one sitting, but the history of Studio One is expressed very well. How accurate the story is however is open to question, as there is no time given over to the artists who have expresssed misgivings at the hands of Dodd's business dealings.
As well as the interviews, there is also footage of Dodd in Jamaica visiting the sites of various dancehalls where his sound used to string up in the early days, with comments from some of his original followers.
One big disappointment however is the visit to the original Brentford Road studio itself. The interior scenes of the complex are presented in a tri-split screen presentation, confining your view so much you just don't get the feeling of having seen the building. Considering how much time is spent visiting empty or run down dancehalls, a little more time and effort showing the actual studio would have benefitted greatly.
Also present is some nice archival footage of the original Skatalites (the only known film to exist), Count Ossie and Jackie Mittoo. Both Mittoo and bassist Leroy Sibbles are correctly given at least some of the credit they deserve toward the success of Studio One, but it's a shame that only Johnny Moore of the surviving Skatalites is presented on camera.
There are further production gripes. Throughout the film, several animated Studio One logo's are presented, but as these appear at the end of each "chapter", they quickly grow tiresome. Some of the background music was mixed a little too loud, and the constant looping of instrumental sections of some songs (Dancing Mood in particular) also grew irritating. Finally, the whole screen is framed by a Soul Jazz border that copies the design of their Studio One CDs. This is not an attractive way to present the film.
Despite all these drawbacks, the Studio One Story is an indispensable package for the reggae devotee. Over the years much has been written about the subject, and many of Dodd's former employees have expressed their opinions. Now Mr. Dodd has his turn, and Soul Jazz have done a great, if slightly flawed, job of presenting it. And all for less than a score!
Remember, our good friend and website contributor Alvaro Gaynicotche now broadcasts a show dedicated to Bob & the Wailers every Saturday on X FM -100.3 Montevideo,Uruguay.
X FM is broadcoast on the Internet, so you can hear it from all over the world. The Uruguay time for the show is : Saturday, 7:00 PM to 9:00PM.
People can contact Alvaro at :
And you can hear by clicking "X FM"" on this site:
Number 17, July 2002
Number 16, April 2002 Number 15, March 2002
Number 14, February 2002 Number 13, January 2002
Number 12, December 2001 Number 11, November 2001
Number 10, October 2001 Number 9, September 2001
Number 8, August 2001 Number 7, July 2001
Number 6, June 2001 Number 5, May 2001
Number 4, April 2001 Number 3, March 2001
Number 2, February 2001 Number 1, January 2001
Please visit these Wailers/reggae sites:
The OFFICIAL Wailers website: www.wailers.com
www.bobmarley.freeserve.co.uk Django! Ska, Rocksteady & Reggae
http://robertnestamarley.free.fr The Wailers News
Bob Marley Magazine http://go.to/bobmarleyshows