Volume 4: Issue 5: October - December 2004
DISTANT DRUMS No. 12
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.
BOB IN UK HALL OF FAME
Bob Marley was inducted into the UK Music Hall Of Fame on Sunday 14th November 2004 as a founding member.
In a live televised ceremony, Bob was inducted by former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, himself a big Bob Marley fan. Marley`s widow Rita attended the ceremony and accepted an award on his behalf.
In his speech, Lennox Lewis spoke of Marley`s rise from ghetto opression to worldwide influence:
"Black musicians have been at the fore-front of musical movement, but until Bob Marley came along, these musicians were only American. Bob Marley opened the door to a world of new music that was only known to a few. Like all greats, his music expanded minds and broadend horizons. Without Bob Marley there`d be no rap, no jungle, no hip-hop. No nothing. His influence stretched beyond music".
"For me, Bob Marley`s lyrics represented strength and confidence - something we all needed when facing new challenges, `cos when music hits you, you feel no pain!"
Receiving the award, Rita Marley, dressed radiantly in pink and white, addressed the celebrity packed audience:
"Thank you brothers and sisters. It really gives me great pleasure to be here tonight to accept this award on behalf of my husband, my lover my friend - Bob Marley! It`s a thrill. I remember the days of touring Europe, and just keep knocking on the door, knocking on the door. And we knew one day this would be, as Bob said, one love, one heart, let`s get together and we`ll feel alright! Exactly so, yeah man, Rastafari - all those are Bob`s words. I wanna thank all Island family, Chris Blackwell and the Island troupe, we could not have done this without them - God bless you Chris. And Bob, wherever you are, I know God is and all is well."
Paying tribute, Beverley Knight and guitar legend Jeff Beck performed a steady version of Is This Love, but you couldn`t help feeling it would have been nice to have had the Wailers band there to play instead. Given the current dispute between Familyman and Tuff Gong, it was of course no suprise they were conspicuous by their absence - it is just a great shame that these disagreements couldn`t be set aside in honour of Bob`s award.
MARLEY SONGS IN TOP 500 OF ALL TIME
Bob Marley and the Wailers had four placings in the Rolling Stone Greatest 500 Songs Of All Time. Highest placed was the 1974 classic No Woman No Cry, coming in at a very respectable No.37. The timeless Redemption Song appeared at No.66, while Get Up Stand Up, co-written with Peter Tosh came in at No.296.
I Shot The Sheriff registered at 443, while top of the tree, in a poll heavily populated by the Beatles, was Bob Dylan`s "Like A Rolling Stone" - a track that the Wailers themselves adapted in 1966 at Studio One. Jimmy Cliff also appeared at No.341 with his soundtrack anthem The Harder They Come, and Toots and the Maytals made the list with Pressure Drop at 446.
The full list can be accessed here: www.rollingstone.com
BURNIN` DELUXE EDITION
The fifth of Universal`s Deluxe Editions from Marley and the Wailers back catalogue arrives boasting one of the bands most revered live performances as a bonus.
The first thing to note on this release is that the fold out cover has been given a nice, glossy finish (unlike the others so far in the series), providing a nice miniture replica of the albums original gate-fold sleeve. The accompanying booklet features all the original pictures, the full album lyrics, and a nice four-page essay written in July 2004 by Scott Schneider.
The remastered version of the album is the same as issued in 2001, with the addition of another two bonus tracks, bringing the total of extra tracks on disc one to five. Bunny Wailer's Reincarnated Soul was originally ear-marked as the title track for the album before it was dropped from the running order. This version was previously issued on the B side of the Concrete Jungle 7".
The Opressed Song was never released at the time, although an alternate mix has been circulated on trade tapes. Bunny recut the song for his 1976 solo album Blackheart Man. Peter Tosh's No Sympathy has also been circulated on the trade scene, and is given a different flavour from the version on his later solo album Legalize It thanks to a sweeping synthesizer.
The sound quality is improved, with a noticable difference on the intro to Pass It On, where the stereo seperation is much better, with no bleeding of the electric piano onto the opposite channel (as was the case with the previous CD edition).
The two bonus tracks exclusive to the deluxe edition are previously unreleased alternate takes of Get Up Stand Up. The first is an alternate take from the original Burnin` sessions, with alternate, although not necessarily inferior, lead vocals from Bob and Peter, although the whole track has a more sluggish overall feel than the released cut - probably due to the fact it runs slower than the release version.
The second version is an un-used single mix, with alternate vocals recorded at A & R studios during the bands week-long residency at Max`s Kansas City, New York while on the US leg of the tour. Bob is very animated on this cut, ad-libbing right from the intro, singing "stand up for your life." Unfortunately sound quality isn`t as sharp on this track, suggesting an inferior source or poorly stored master, but it is definately worth it`s place on the release. Incidentely, this version runs a semi-tone sharper than the original released cut, whether this is intended or not, it rather jars when listening to the previous unreleased version, which is a whole note slower. In retrospect, while both these un-issued tracks are good, they made the right choice by using the version picked on the original album.
LIVE AT LEEDS (The Bonus Disc)
Right from the opening, Bob sounds in a very animated and playful mood, making light improvisations of the phrasing during Duppy Conqueror, which is given a splendid, jumpy 6-minute workout . A concentrated version of Slave Driver follows, with Bob throwing in some very neat ad-libs around the four-minute mark, which link very nicely to the final fuzzed guitar solo from Peter.
A similar mood prevails over Burnin` And Lootin`, where an intense lead vocal from Bob developes to an ad-libbed close with stern proclaimations that "it`s a curfew" repeated with cutting diction. Wya`s glorious organ sweeps through the mix, adding both sweetness and bite in equal quantities, being neither too imposing or softening the edge of each rendition. Bob and Peter`s guitars are neatly split across the stereo field, allowing a nice sense of space to develope on the recording.
Peter Tosh leads the next two numbers, the sorely over-looked Can`t Blame The Youth and Stop That Train. The former is a steady if unspectacular version with nice clavinet from Wya, and Bob filling out the sound on harmony, before coming to the fore with more ad-libs over the play-out. Tosh sounds a lot more confident on Stop That Train, where Bob forgets his harmony duties and is happy to take a backseat as Peter leads a nice raw-edged rendition.
The absence of Bunny is very noticable on this show. The sweetness of the harmonies is certainly lacking, although Peter Tosh does his best to fill the gap that had been temporarily filled by Joe Higgs on previous dates, but who failed to make the return to England for this performance. As a result of this, the performances here have a rougher edge than other shows, but are certainly no less enjoyable.
The lengthy opening of No More Trouble finds the band actually over doing the improvisations, as both Wya, and then Peter make mistakes leading the band into the song, before they finally make their way out of the situation. Kinky Reggae is a perfectly placed moment of light relief in the set, where Bob even incorporates the line "easy on my pony," from Bunny`s Tread Oh number. Get Up Stand Up opens with another slightly over-improvised intro, but both Bob and Peter come in sounding very comitted on the first verse, getting things firmly back on track.
There is nice musical interplay from Bob and Wya on the intro of Stir It Up, which builds slowly into a sweet seven-minute jam, while Put It On demonstrates the missing third vocal most markedly, although the rendition is still totally comitted with the Barrett brothers providing a solid backbone as they do throughout the whole show.
The Leeds show closes with a thirteen-minute storm through Lively Up Yourself, which opens in strictly drum and bass style, commanded expertly by Carly and Fams, which even Peter`s loose guitar chords fail to de-rail. Wya paraphrases Tommy McCooks horn line from the original studio version during the opening chorus, and the band gradually up the pace after a few minutes.
Drawing to a close, Bob begins to improvise lines from Rastaman Chant, concluding with "fly away home, to the place where your mind is contented...if you get there before I do, don`t cry, just tell your neighbours up there, I`m coming up there too."
MARLEY THE MUSICAL
Get up, Stand up: now Marley the musical heads for West End By Cahal Milmo From The Independant On-Line
13 November 2004
In life, he championed the poor and sang on behalf of the powerless. Now, 23 years after his death, the legacy of Bob Marley is to again inspire the masses - as a West End musical.
The songs of the Jamaican icon will form the basis for reggae's theatrical debut after his widow and record company struck a deal with the company behind the current West End blockbusterThe Producers. The move means that Marley's name will be added to the burgeoning list of musical heroes whose politically aware work has been recycled in the search for abox office hit in London's £90m musical market.
It was announced last week that the melancholic oeuvre of Morrissey, the professionally glum frontman of the Smiths, will form the basis for a stage production next July. A similar production based on the work of Jacques Brel won popular acclaim.
The productions follow a successful pattern of pop-based musicals ranging from the Abba-based Mamma Mia to We Will Rock You (Queen), Our House (Madness) and Tonight's the Night (Rod Stewart).
But the addition of Marley to the roll-call of West End entertainment caused consternation among his friends about the portrayal of a man who by the time he died of cancer aged 36 had fathered 12 children, eight of them by women other than his wife.
Dennis Morris, who knew Marley at the height of his creative powers in the mid-Seventies and has written a biography, A Rebel Life, said: "I'm not sure what Bob would make of it. He would probably like it if he could get involved but he would only be happy if it focused on his ideas.
"He touched a lot of hearts and changed a lot of minds. But it depends on the aspect of his life they concentrate on - are we going to get Bob the great lover or Bob the ideologue?"
David Ian, the head of the theatrical division of the American entertainment giant Clear Channel, who signed the Marley lyrics deal, said that neither writers nor storyline have yet been found for the musical, planned for 2006.
There were no details yesterday of the cost of the deal to buy the rights from Rita Marley and Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, which signed Marley in 1971.
The agreement gives Mr Ian access to some of the singer's greatest hits, including "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Exodus" and "Get Up, Stand Up". But the West End producer insisted that the translation of reggae from the Kingston ghetto where Marley grew up to a central London theatre would be successful and respectful of his legacy. He said the script would be approved by Marley's family.
"As far as I'm aware there has not been a reggae musical, despite it being such a popular form of music," he said. "Marley is an icon around the world and his lyrics and ideas lend themselves to a musical. It is very early days but I don't anticipate it being biographical."
ENGINEER ERROL T PASSES
From the HEARTBEAT RECORDS website: http://www.heartbeatreggae.com/news.html
Legendary engineer Errol Thompson passed away on Sunday November 14. He was considered Jamaica's greatest engineer, and his work with Joe Gibbs produced some of reggae's finest music including classic works from Peter Tosh, Culture, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru and the Mighty Diamonds. For a sample of Errol Thompson's work with Joe Gibbs, see The Mighty 2: Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson.
Heartbeat A&R Director Chris Wilson reflects... Errol was one of the great and important figures in Reggae, and I was fortunate to meet and work with him. He was so instrumental in the evolution of Reggae Music that his loss is incalculable. He was responsible for the recording of some of the greatest music ever released in Jamaica, including Burning Spear's Marcus Garvey sessions. He never enjoyed the fame so justly due him and many of his works have been attributed to others, but because of his tenure at Randy's studio and his later work with producer Joe Gibbs, Errol will always be remembered as a true legend.
DON TAYLOR BOOK RE-PRINTED
The controversial book Marley And Me by one time manager Don Taylor has been re-printed by John Blake Publishing. Now available with the sensationalist title Guns And Ganja, the book accounts Taylor`s rise from streetwise hustler in the ghettos of Kingston to wealth and prosperity as Bob`s manager from 1975 to 1980.
On it`s original publication in the early 1990`s, the book courted much controversy for it`s accusations of drugs, murder and double dealing. While any version of events from members of the Wailers entourage is welcomed, I actually found it a rather tedious account - despite all of the afformentioned claims. This was not because of some mis-judged devotion to Bob`s memory (Al Anderson stated that there was a lot of truth in the book), but simply because the book was actually rather rambling and full of anti-climaxes.
There are several factual errors scattered throughout the book, with Don seeming to be a whole year out on ocassions with regards to tour details and the like, and his account of the Hope Road shooting in 1976 seems at odds with other evidence. For instance, he claimed to have been unconcious after the shooting, but there are photographs of him at the time wincing in pain as he was tended to, very clearly awake and perceptive. Taylor also has the habit of being spitefully critical of just about everyone else he comes across in his account, even though he is happy to give thanks to some he targets in the forward. While painting himself as a hard-done-by, innocent party, this constant sniping is of no help into making his version any more believable.
Guns And Ganja is available in paperback for the RRP of £7.99, and can be found even cheaper online, and as such is worth investing in. (ISBN 1-85782-596-9)
GET TOGETHER AND FEEL ALRIGHT
The messageboard at www.bobmarleymagazine.com has fast developed into the ultimate meeting place on the internet for any self respecting fan to meet and discuss all things related to Bob and the Wailers.
Thanks to a solid, and ever growing community, the exemplary work of Marco and Ivan, and of course the inspiration of Jah, it is possible for fans to discuss the music and life of Bob, Peter, Bunny and the Wailers band members, set up trades for unreleased live and demo material, and just generally meet with like minded spirits - not to mention the fantastic interviews that appear on the sites main pages .
If you haven`t registered to the forum yet, I strongly urge you to leave this page now and do so - you won`t regret it. Just don`t forget to return here once in a while!
Number 31, August/September 2004 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
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Please visit these Wailers/reggae sites:
The OFFICIAL Wailers website: www.wailers.com
www.bobmarley.freeserve.co.uk Django! Ska, Rocksteady & Reggae
www.caceinternational.com The Wailers News
Bob Marley Magazine http://go.to/bobmarleyshows