The “Listen Again” series was popular enough that your favorite music man has decided to follow the lead of some TV execs and do a spin-off. In this series we’ll once again examine previously-released albums but the discs we’ll discuss in this particular series will be (Rolling Stone magazine) FIVE-STAR albums. In this edition we (ahem) examine Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Live!
For those not up on their music history, Bob Marley and the Wailers were a Jamaican reggae group founded by Marley (guitar and vocals), Peter Tosh (guitar, keyboard and vocals) and Bunny Wailer (percussion and vocals) in 1963. Later that same year singer Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso (backing vocals) and Cherry Smith (backing vocals) had signed on with the band as well. Tosh and Wailer left in 1974 and Marley took the lead bringing on brothers Carlton and Aston “Family Man” Barrett on drums and bass respectively, Al Anderson on guitar, Tyrone Downie on keys, Carlton Barrett on drums and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson on percussion. His backing vocalists, the “I Threes”, included: Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley’s wife, Rita.
Live! Is a 7-track live platter which documents one of Marley’s most famous performances. It was recorded during his London concert performances on July 18 and 19 1975. The album opens strongly with the Marley composition “Trenchtown Rock”.
The second selection is Marley’s hot track “Burnin’ and Lootin’”. It’s perhaps all too quickly followed by the band’s take on a tune by Leon Cogill and drummer Barrett titled “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”. Side one ends on another Marley tune “Lively Up Yourself” which easily exemplifies the new direction of the band.
The flip side opens on the classic cut “No Woman, No Cry” which is a great live cover of a song by Vincent Ford. The album goes out with a bang with Marley’s most famous number “I Shot the Sheriff” and perhaps the most well-known and emblematic Marley-Tosh composition “Get Up, Stand Up”. With a running time of over 45 minutes, the live performance was released on the Island label on December 5, 1975.
Bob Marley and the Wailers would only gain popularity as the years went on and would not be forgotten in the new millennium. In fact, Live! The Definitive Remasters edition would be released in 2001. It even included a bonus track titled “Kinky Reggae” which was another song by Marley.
A Deluxe Edition which would include music from both live shows on two discs was scheduled to be released by Universal Music in 2006 but was subsequently postponed and (as of this writing) remains unreleased. This album remains significant for musically marking the point where Marley, once only principal guitarist, took over the band.
Under Marley’s direction, the band continued to create some of the most exciting music of the decade which perhaps climaxed with the concert captured within the cuts on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Live/Is.9376 which features live versions of some of their most exciting songs.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.