Update No. 31
Volume 4: Issue 4: August - September 2004

Issue 12 of the essential Wailers rootszine Distant Drums is available now, featuring the Kaya tour 1978, Island Records re-masters, Al Anderson and Junior Braithwaite interviews and all the usual news, reviews and listings.

Available from www.distantdrums.org or Ernie B in the US.

The fifth in the series of Bob Marley and the Wailers deluxe editions will be released by Island on September 28th 2004.

The Wailers second Island album from 1973, Burnin`, will receive the two-disc treatment through Universal Music, and include the much heralded first official release of the live show recorded at the Leeds Polytechnic from November that year.

Burnin` saw the Wailers leave behind the "rock" overdubs of their previous Catch A Fire album, to present a more natural, earthier sound - much more in keeping with their previous Jamican output. The link to their recent past was also glimpsed in the three recuts of songs originally produced by Lee Perry; Put It On, Small Axe and Duppy Conqueror.

The cuts here, recorded at Harry J and produced by the Wailers themselves, are faithful to those Perry originals, yet add just enough gloss for the international market without sounding perfidious. Burnin` often suffers by comparison from it`s ground-breaking predecessor, but in retrospect, it is arguably the stronger of the two collections. Not only does it feature such monumental moments as the opening salvo, Get Up Stand Up (of which the deluxe edition offers a further two alternate versions), but it also gave Bunny his first opportunity to take lead - an honour denied him on Catch A Fire.

Hallelujah Time is an infectious and joyous hymn, with Bunny`s beautiful tenor pitched perfectly against the Wailers deft rhythm structure and harmonies. The second of Bunny`s lead vocals is the utterly sublime rendition of Pass It On, a song the band had previously attempted in an unreleased arrangement (see report below), and Bunny later returned to for his own Solomonic version. Here, his masterful control of an exquisite melody results in one of the bands finest moments, an often over-looked gem that has as much soul and inspiration as any gospel choir could summon up.

Peter Tosh weighs in with his One Foundation, a powerful drive for unity, propelled by Wya Lindo`s majestic organ. The track fits sensitively with the two Bunny compostions and Marley`s Put It On, to offer Burnin` a balanced feel, yet It`s interesting how the album counter weighs these hymnal themes with some of Marley`s more brooding compositions, such as Burnin` And Lootin` and I Shot the Sheriff.

I Shot The Sheriff of course introduced Marley to a wider audience through the musical osmosis of Eric Clapton`s cover version. What Clapton recognised in that song is obvious to hear in this original recording; Marley`s gritty vocal takes reggae into territory that the blues afficiando would clearly be familiar with. The tale of the hunted outlaw is a theme that Marley used as an analogy to describe his struggle in the ghettos of Kingston, and the aura of disatisfaction is a direct link to many blues lyrics.

The main draw of the deluxe edition will of course be the live set included on disc 2. Recorded at the Leeds Polytechnic on 27th November 1973, the band line up consisted of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs - who had replaced the homesick Bunny Wailer - Earl "Wya" Lindo, Aston and Carlton Barrett. A tape of this show has circulated amongst collectors for years, and is one of the most popular recordings of the band from any stage of their career.

The set list consists of four numbers from the Burnin` album, five from the previous Catch A Fire, Peter`s Can`t Blame The Youth and an extended, 13 minute final rally through Lively Up Yourself, in which Bob ad-libs courtesy of Bunny`s Tread Oh. The recording captures an exciting and energetic set from the band, with Bob`s choppy rhythm guitar cutting through like a hyper-active ratchet knife. The unofficial tape runs at over 71 minutes, so it will be interesting to see if Islands release adds any missing tracks.

BURNIN`: Possible track listing
.1. Get Up Stand Up
.2. Hallelujah Time
.3. I Shot The Sheriff
.4. Burin` And Lootin`
.5. Put It On
.6. Small Axe
.7. Pass It On
.8. Duppy Conqueror
.9. One Foundation
10. Rastaman Chant
11. Reincarnated Souls
12. No Sympathy
13. The Opressed Song
14. Get Up Stand Up (alternate)
15. Get Up Stand Up (single mix)

.1. Duppy Conqueror
.2. Slave Driver
.3. Burnin` And Lootin`
.4. Can`t Blame The Youth (this song is cut on the unofficial tape)
.5. Midnight Raver
.6. No More Trouble
.7. Kinky Reggae
.8. Get Up Stand Up
.9. Stir It Up
10. Put It On
11. Lively Up Yourself

JAD Records released a brand new collection of Rita Marley & the Soulettes material entitled Play Play on August 16th 2004. The collection is subtitled "The Best Of Rita Marley 1967-1972", and features the rare recording Give Her Love, along with 15 other seldom heard tracks.

1. Play Play
2. Bring It Up
3. Lonely Girl
4. This World
5. Why Should I
6. Give Her Love
7. My Desire
8. Give Me A Ticket
9. When The Festival Is Over
10. Friends & Lovers For Ever
11. Let It Be
12. I've Been Lonely
13. Rainbow Island
14. Sylvia's Mother
15. I Do
16. Put Your Hand In The Hand

Hip-O Records add yet another Wailers collection to their canon on 31st August 2004. Titled (imaginativley) Original Cuts, the album offers 24 tracks (including versions) that the band would later recut for Island Records.

Although not such a bad idea in theory, these releases are coming along at an alarming rate since Universal acquired the JAD licensing, and, to be honest, some are only cluttering up an already confusing discography. The sole saving grace of this set is the inclusion of the previously unreleased version of Pass It On, a wonderful cut recorded prior to it`s re-casting on the Burnin` album.

Such gems are often worth the price of an album alone, but the Universal marketing ploy of planting them on otherwise un-necessary collections is more than midly annoying for the dedicated fan. It would be easy to map out a release plan where the unreleased cuts could be included together on a single box set, offering more value for those who have already bought the "standard" tracks many times over, but such idealistic thinking is apparently forbidden by large record companies today!

1. Trenchtown Rock
2. Small Axe
3. Don't Rock My Boat
4. Bend Down Low
5. Lively Up Yourself
6. Sun Is Shining (alternate version)
7. Kaya
8. Stir It Up
9. Man To Man
10. Stop The Train
11. 400 Years
12. Duppy Conqueror
13. Concrete Jungle
14. Pass It On (previously unreleased alternate version)
15. Grooving Kingston
16. Axe Man
17. Live
18. Sun Is Shining (version)
19. Kaya (version)
20. Nicoteen
21. My Sympathy
22. Duppy Conqueror (version)
23. Ammunition
24. Pass It On (version)

By Andy Clayden

Earlier this year saw the publication of the long awaited version of the Bob Marley story from one of the people closest to him - his wife and widow Rita.

Arriving amid much controversy following newspaper allegations of rape and abuse, the book itself was unfairly overshadowed when it actually hit the shelves. Since Bob`s passing in 1981, Rita has been the target of much criticism from certain corners of fandom, particularly for her handling of his estate, but to dismiss her version of events presented in this book purely on personal bias, would be both unfair and unwise.

Taking us back to her childhood, we learn of her upbringing in Kingston, the guidence given by her Aunt Vie, and the musical inspiration fom her father and uncle that eventually propelled her to compete on (and win) Opportunity Knocks, eventually resulting in her forming the Soulettes.

A little more flesh is added to the still somewhat obscure early days of the Wailers at Studio One, with Rita offering a few personal insights that bring Bob Marley back to earth as a real person, rather than the near deity he has often been acclaimed in print since 1981. Probably the best part of the book covers the lean Wail N Soul M years through to the building of the of empire at 56 Hope Road, with Rita`s home in Bull Bay being of particular interest.

Although a entertaining read, and offering some nice personal anecdotes, occasionally it feels a little guarded. I`m sure there could have been more detail from life on the road during the gruelling tours, and at a little over 200 pages, there was surely room for expansion.

Regarding the rape allegations, it is painted in a very different light in the book than how it was presented in the press - giving support to Rita`s claim that it was taken out of context. Sometimes it`s hurtful to see your heroes presented in a less than flattering manner, but some truths need to be revealed to understand the real person. The overall picture of Bob presented here, is that of a caring human with faults like any man, and it`s clear that Rita really did love him. Many books and essays have been written on Bob Marley, often by people who were not involved with him personally, therefore, any account from an actual acquaintance has to be welcomed. Putting any prejudice aside will reveal an entertaining read, that, while not quite as good as it could have been still delivers on several levels.

Recommended for the Marleyphile.

By Andy Clayden

Published by Da Capo Press, the Bob Marley Reader is a highly entertaining gathering of articles published between 1973 and 2003, and featuring works from such luminaries as Chris Salewicz, Timothy White, Vivian Goldman and Stephen Davis among others.

Arranged into 11 sections, the book covers the Wailers history, thoughts of band members, archival interviews with Bob, and several studies of the bands influence and legacy. The book is a veritable time capsual, with such items as Richard Williams Melody Maker article from 1973 taking us right into the studio with the Wailers during the mixing of the Burnin` album in London. You can then catapult yourself forward to the 1977 Exodus tour courtsey of Vivien Goldman`s Sounds article, or maybe have a Good Smoke With Peter Tosh and Stephen Davis in 1979.

The manner of the book allows you to dip in at any point and enjoy such classic pieces as those described above. The whole gamut of religion, politics, business and, of course, music are covered in a series of carefully selected articles that best outline and record history, both as it unfolded, and as it was remembered.

Due to the nature of the book, there are several factual inaccuracies repeated from the original articles, and the occasional tale is left incomplete - as in the case of the Andrew Gaty lawsuit. A few rather dry studies aside (and the rather un-necessary inclusion of the Marvel comic excerpt), The Bob Marley Reader is a thoroughly absorbing read; simple yet effectively presented, and highly recommended by this website.

Every Little Things Gonna Be Alright-The Bob Marley Reader. Da Capo Press: ISBN: 0-306-81340-8

Thanks this month to: Gael Doyen, Kate Pezalla (Da Capo Press), Joe Jurgensen and Matt Jackson.

Previous Updates:

Number 30, May 2004

Number 29, April 2004     Number 28, January 2004

Number 27, October/November 2003    Number 26, August/September 2003

Number 25, July 2003     Number 24, June 2003

Number 23, May 2003    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