Update No. 23
Volume 3: Issue 4: May 2003

The family of Bob Marley has discovered a batch of unheard recordings by the reggae icon that may be used as the basis for an album partially produced in the same style as the mid- 1990s Beatles singles Free As a Bird and Real Love.

Marley's eldest son, Ziggy, tells Billboard.com the eight-track recordings, which his father made at home, will likely be supplemented with vocals from himself as well as some of his musical siblings.

Just as surviving Beatles Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr built Free As a Bird and Real Love around rough recordings of unreleased John Lennon vocals, the Marleys would embellish some of the newly discovered songs, says Ziggy.

In addition, Ziggy says he would like to have such top-shelf musicians as Carlos Santana (a well-known Marley fan) contribute to the album. The Marley family is in discussion with Universal Music for the release of the album, which Ziggy hopes will be issued next year.

Recorded in the late '70s, the songs will not be familiar to Bob's fans. "I didn't know any of these songs," Ziggy says. "The way he was playing the guitar on one song that I heard, it was like jazz. It wasn't what you would expect from him at all."

By Andy Clayden

As the 22nd anniversary of Bob Marley's passing reaches us, and yet more unreleased recordings are "unearthed" at Tuff Gong, the future of Bob's catalogue looks like becoming increasingly diverse in musical style and content.

Even before the final events of May 11th 1981 had been played out, the Marley tape vaults were being excavated for unreleased music, and it is said that one of Bob's last requests to Familyman Barrett was for the Wailers bassist to remix the unissued 1976 recording I Know and release it on single in Jamaica.

Bob's wishes were fulfilled, and I Know was subsequently followed into the record shops in 1982 by Trench Town, another previously unreleased gem.

This month we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the posthumous Confrontation album. Although not an album conceived by Bob himself - instead featuring unreleased out-takes and Jamaican only singles - the record can be viewed to some degree as his last genuine album. Much more than a mere compilation and gathering of rejected ideas, Confrontation stands proudly in the Marley canon as a righteous brethren to masterworks Exodus, Survival and Uprising.

Two years on from Bob's untimely passing, Tuff Gong/Island Records prepared the way for the album with the release of the single Buffalo Soldier, a re-working of a song originally conceived by Bob's friend King Sporty, for whom Marley cut the original demo recording.

The single was an enormous radio-friendly hit, (with many DJs noting the similarity of the "woy, yoy, yoy" hook to the theme of 1960's cartoon "Banana Splits") and, aided by a video featuring members of Aswad, Buffalo Soldier rose to number 4 on the UK national chart.

The single differed greatly from the original demo version, which was later (and rather strangely) given a slightly covert release as a white label pressing with a limited run of copies of the Three Little Birds re-issue. The demo was taken at a faster pace and featured an upbeat rhythm, falling somewhere between disco and techno-rock.

Buffalo Soldier recounted the tale of the black American infantry men who fought against the native American Indians and in the Civil war. Bob cut the final version on his return to Jamaica in 1978, featuring a more typical Wailers backing, with delicate percussion and gentle use of acoustic guitar and a tight horn section adding bite to the final production.

Confrontation hit the album chart toward the end of May 1983, and offered 5 previously un-released tracks alongside a further 4 songs issued only in Jamaica and the current UK hit Buffalo Soldier. The artwork was designed by Neville Garrick, and the front sleeve depicted Bob on horse back slaying a dragon, in a graphic display over good victorious over evil, while the gatefold inner featured Garrick's adaptation of a traditional Ethipian painting depicting the 1896 Battle of Adowa.

Chant Down Babylon opened side 1, a 1979 composition slated for Bob's final Uprising album, but replaced by Coming In From The Cold at the last minute. A bright and euphoric celebration of the power of reggae music, Chant Down Babylon features excellent organ work from Wia Lindo, and crisp drumming from Carlton "Santa" Davies. A splendid opener.

Jump Nyabinghi, originally cut in late 1979, was reputedly one of Marley's personal favourites from the period, and developed from the same session that produced the unreleased track Jungle Fever. Again Bob is preparing to attack Babylon and reggae music is his intrinsic weapon; another celebratory song with masterful drumming from Carlton Barrett and excellent use of male and female harmonies.

Of the 5 previously unissued tracks featured on Confrontation, Mix Up, Mix Up is the most intriguing. The song was originally a 2-track acoustic recording of uncertain vintage, running to a lengthy 25 minutes. Neville Garrick and Tuff Gong engineer Errol Brown selected 8 minutes from the tape, built a click track and this was then overdubbed by the Wailers band to produce the final 5 minute opus.

The finished cut sits effortlessly alongside the rest of the album tracks. This triumph of studio technology offerd a glimpse of how the Marley legend would be sustained over the coming years, with further vocal tracks isolated and new backing tracks built. Of all those that followed however, it is only Mix Up, Mix Up that sounds entirely convincing.

Give Thanks & Praises closed the first side of the album. A touching Rasta hymn with a particularly uplifting final chorus on the fade out. The simple production lays Bob's heartfelt vocal bare, allowing the lyric full impact.

Only one unreleased cut graced side 2, another 1979 out-take Stiff Necked Fools. One verse was borrowed from the 1969 Wailers song Wisdom, illustrating how Marley had developed as a song writer; whereas the verse was originally the basis of the whole song, here it is recast as merely one part of a greater composition. A warning against love of materialistic gains, Stiff Necked Fools was built on a deliciously captivating Wailers rhythm, featuring an almost hypnotic organ hook.

The remainder of Confrontation would be familiar to the more clued-up Marley fans. Blackman Redemption and Rastaman Live Up were both 1978 Jamaican singles cut with the auspicious influence of Lee Perry (at the same session as Buffalo Soldier), albeit given smoother mixes. The remix of the latter is the most radical, with the whole of the original introduction edited out and the removal of the Meditations prominante harmonies. Stripping the track down to it's base components and substituting harmonies from the I-Three's certaintely detracted from the songs original appeal, and the mix presented as the albums closing cut feels pedestrian by comparison.

I Know offered an early glimpse of Bob attempting a pop/reggae cross- over. Recorded in 1976, the song features a lyric previously used on The Lord Will Make A Way in 1968, but the delivery here is very soulful, with a sweeping string synth and soaring I-Three harmony. Strangely, Island/Tuff Gong opted not to issue a second single from the album, but if they had I Know would have been the perfect candidate for commercial success. The version here is a different mix than the one issued in Jamaica in 1981.

The proud decleration of Trench Town was, fittingly, one of Bob's last recordings cut sometime in early 1980, and must surely have been a strong contender for any album that he may have had planned for 1981. The power of music as previously exalted in Chant Down Babylon and Jump Nyabinghi is continued here, giving the Confrontation album a genuine concept feel. The album version features different vocals from the 1982 Jamaican single cut.

Although certainly not the album that Bob would have released had he lived (only Jump Nyabinghi and Trench Town could be considered possible inclusions for that), Confrontation is an admirable attempt to fulfill Marley's concept of albums that began with Survival and Uprising.

Although several suitable tracks are known to exists in the vaults (Babylon Feel This One, Slogans, All On Board), it seems unlikely that any further additions to the Marley concept albums will appear. With Carlton Barrett's murder in 1987 an important part of the Wailers sound died, and Familyman's ongoing dispute with the Marley estate would also seem to rule him out of any further Bob Marley projects.

It would seem that the classic Bob Marley and the Wailers sound is relegated to a part of history. Tracks such as Iron Lion Zion, Why Should I and the non-reggae remixes of Sun Is Shining and I Know A Place are developing a new, modernised soundscape for Bob's voice and message. While it is true to say Bob Marley would have developed his own sound had he survived, it is also important not to forget the past.

Surely there is room for both the authentic and the contemporary sounds. Confrontation is a reminder of how things could be done, and if the inspiration arrived, could be achieved again.

June 24th is the release date slated for the latest Bob Marley deluxe edition. This time Island/Tuff Gong concentrate on the legends classic performance at the Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles in 1976. What makes the concert such a mystifying choice of release is that most of the show was released on the recent Rastaman Vibration deluxe edition, with only the encore of Get Up Stand Up, War-No More Trouble remaining un- issued.

No further details have been released as yet, so we don't know whether there will be recordings from other Roxy shows included. We'll just have to wait and see how the label finally package this one.

Fikishia Cumbo's book Get Up Stand Up can now be obtained from Amazon.com. The book showcases the years between 1975 and 1983, when Bob Marley and Peter Tosh became international stars and features over 240 previously unseen photographs.

To order visit: http://www.amazon.com/seller/fikisha

Out on the streets now from Trojan Records comes the re-vamped and expanded CD edition of the classic African Herbsman album. Originally issued in the UK in 1973, the original 16 track collection of Upsetter period Wailers tracks features an additional 10 bonus cuts and new sleeve notes from David Kaatz.

Trojan's parent company Sanctuary Records offer up two previously issued Bunny Wailer compilations on May 6th. Crucial! Roots Classics takes in album cuts and rare singles, while the Retrospective collection concentrates on easier to obtain album tracks. Hopefully these 2 albums will be the beginning of a decent re- appraisal of Bunny's often over-looked solo works.

June 10th sees yet another addition to the ever burgeoning Peter Tosh compilation catalogue with the release of The Essential Peter Tosh: Best Of The Colombia Years. The collection will feature tracks from Peter's first 2 solo outings, released in the UK on Virgin Records. Also being touted by EMI is another Best Of Peter Tosh, apparently hitting the shops on July 8th.

One of the most interesting new sites to appear recentley takes a long overdue look at the history and influence of mento music. www.mentomusic.com features an excellent presentation of the Jamaican folk music, tracing it's origins and noting it's influences. Of particular interest to Wailers fans will be the special page dedicated to the influence of mento on tracks cut by Bob, Peter and Bunny.

Although the internet is rife with Bob Marley websites, the attentions given to Peter and Bunny are considerably limited. For this reason it is a pleasure to announce another new website dreadicated to the great Peter Tosh. The new French website can be found at http://membres.lycos.fr/semayat

The Peter Tosh Tribute Album is being done to fund the construction of a medical clinic, a library, and the Peter Tosh Museum in Jamaica. Proceeds from this album will also be the primary source of funding for our "Instruments for the Youth" program, which working in the cooperation of companies like Martin Guitars and Ernie Ball Strings, and Mid East Mfg. provides musical instruments to needy children.

Veteran promoter Mike Malott, who conceived the album project will be working closely with Peter' s son; Dave Tosh who has joined the production team.  Andrew Tosh (also Peter Tosh's son) will also assist in the production but has been actively touring to support his music career.  The album is planned for release later this year and Malott is currently in discussions with five major labels regarding the release and states that the response has been very positive.  Although contributors are still being solicited, several artists are confirmed to contribute to the album including Eric Clapton, the late Jerry Garcia, multi-platinum Cypress Hill, multi-Grammy award winning artist Maxi Priest, Slash, Matt & Duff from Guns & Roses, and acclaimed recording artist; Jeffery Gaines, blues guitarist extraordinaire Jimmie Vaughan, Peter Tosh's son; Andrew Tosh, Bad Brains, Tippie Irie, international music star Lucky Dube, Ben Harper, Sean Paul, Bob Andy, and international reggae great Lasana Bandele, who is also working on the project with Malott along with Dave Tosh.  The album will also feature a chilling acoustic version of "Pick Myself Up" performed by Martha Davis of The Motels.  Other artists contributing a track include Luciano, as well as, David Lindley and Aswad.

Eric Clapton informed producer's that he would be "more than happy" to sanction the use of a 1974 un-released Clapton version of Peter Tosh's Whatcha Gonna Do which actually features Peter Tosh performing background vocals for this "obviously worthwhile cause".  We have also been authorized to use a never before released version of Tosh's Stop That Train recorded by the late Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead).  Several artists have made donations of items towards the project  including a generous donation from Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Seal, Jimmy Buffett, No Doubt, Ben Harper, Bush, Christina Aguilera, Jewel, Paul Anka, Michelle Branch, Bush, Charlie Daniels, Dianne Shuur, Carlos Santana, Chrissie Hynes and others. 

Confirmed Song Line up
2.  ERIC CLAPTON Whatcha Gonna Do
3.  JERRY GARCIA Stop That Train
4.  BOB ANDY / SHABBA RANKS  Sly & Robbie producing The Toughest
5.  CYPRESS HILL Legalize It
6.  JIMMIE VAUGHAN Stepping Razor
7.  BAD BRAINS African
8.  LASANA BANDELE Equal Rights
9.  BEN HARPER I Am That I Am
10. ANDREW TOSH Buk-in-ham Palace
11. SEAN PAUL No Nuclear War
12. EDI FITZROY Burial
13. LUCIANO Moses (The Prophet)
14. TIPPA IRIE Catchy Shubby
15. SLASH Not Gonna Give It Up
17. LUCKY DUBE Rastafari Is
artists performing with above include;
DEAN FRASER Johnny B. Goode

A range of official Bob Marley merchandise is now available in the UK from Rock Off. The mail order company also offer a wide range of official products from the worlds leading artists.

Call or write for a free catalogue or visit the website: www.rockoff.co.uk

Mail order hotline: 0151 227 1963
write to: From Me To You Enterprises,
6 Cavern Walks,
Mathew Street,
Liverpool L2 6RE

Previous Updates:

Number 22, April 2003

Number 21, March 2003    Number 20, February 2003

See side links for full on-line www.wailers.co.uk archive.

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     http://intelligentdiplomat.free.fr

www.melodymakers.de     bobmarleyshop.com

www.caceinternational.com     The Wailers News

Bob Marley Magazine     http://go.to/bobmarleyshows

www.mentomusic.com     http://membres.lycos.fr/semayat

Contact: jahlight@wailers.co.uk