APRIL 1973: With Catch a Fire, the band then known simply as The Wailers, created a bridge between the deep-rooted sound of Jamaica and the commercial rock music of the international market, especially the US and UK.
Led by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and recorded between three different eight-song studios in Kingston, Jamaica, Catch a Fire was produced in London by Chris Blackwell of Island Records.
The tracks, seven of which were composed by Marley and the other two by lead singer and guitarist Peter Tosh, are a thoughtful and sincere collection, driven by a sense of urgency.
Speaking to Billboard in 1973, Marley compared his music to the blues, saying, “He’s telling the truth from people’s point of view.” In It catches fireMarley and Tosh are brave with their language and dedication, whether lamenting the oppression of blacks, calling for the uprising from poverty, or singing love songs.
The original 20,000 pressed vinyl came in a case, designed by graphic artist Rod Dyer, which represented and opened like a real Zippo lighter (above).
Copies of that original press have since become a collector’s item, and the cover was reproduced for the 2001 luxury CD edition, which includes the original unreleased “Jamaican version.” from the album.
1. Concrete jungle
Concrete Jungle includes an unusually long introduction to a reggae song, making rock fans familiar with the familiar sounds of the electric guitar, before the low noise and classical reggae rhythm of a drop begins after 30 seconds. . It later includes a scorching guitar solo by Muscle Shoals session guitarist Wayne Perkins.
The lyrics contain recognizable metaphors related to darkness and lightness, reminiscent of passages from the Bible and many aspects of both Caribbean and Western culture. Concrete Jungle is the unofficial name of a famous housing project built in the early 1970s on the outskirts of West Kingston’s Trench Town.
With this song, Marley makes a visceral commentary on the unhealthy aspects of urban life, as well as illuminating the real place where her friends lived.
2. Slave driver
In Slave Driver, Marley and The Wailers continue to send a bold and meaningful message, giving voice to some of the most marginalized people in their country and recognizing how racism continued to thrive within the structures of society.
However, the beautiful vocal harmonies created by Marley, Tosh, and Wailer make the listener not even realize at first how political the song is. The title of the album, which means “go to hell” comes from this theme, and is sung in the background as Marley tells the “slave drivers” with a reassurance that “the table is ticking” and that ” they will come out “. to burn ”for their continued ill-treatment of the African population.
3. 400 Years
Written and composed by Peter Tosh, earlier versions of 400 Years of The Wailers were already well known in Jamaica, especially one produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. It is a disturbing song of social criticism, referring to slavery in many forms and emphasizing the relentlessness of oppression with the repeated “Four hundred years have passed.”
in addition to the creepy voices of support. Again, the listener is asked to connect the atrocities of the past and the present. But despite all the horrible references, there is also a hopeful side to his reference to the biblical Genesis 15, which he believes that after 400 years of mistreatment, deliverance awaits.
4. Stop this train
Peter Tosh’s second track on the album, Stop That Train, is another indication of his success as a solo artist. Marley and Wailer’s rich vocal harmonies ensure that this song stays in your head long after you’ve stopped listening to it.
The listener may feel Tosh’s feeling of despair and misery with lines like “even though I’ve done my best / I still can’t find happiness.” It’s a painfully sad topic, which many understand is about someone contemplating suicide, or at least someone leaving a home they had previously loved and had tried to improve. But somehow, once again, the song seems to float and fade away with a sense of hope. In the last 15 seconds of the track, we hear Tosh mutter “it must be better.”
5. Baby We’ve Got a Date (Rock It Baby)
Baby We’ve Got a Date (Rock It Baby) is the album’s first love song, and comes at the end of the first face of the original album, almost as a reward for new international listeners to keep up with the album. activism and a promise of lighter content on the next side.
It features another appearance by Wayne Perkins on slide guitar, as well as the choruses of Rita Marley and her friend Marcia Griffiths, a popular solo artist in Jamaica. This theme has a soft and positive feel, and it is about someone looking forward to the date they have planned for “a quarter to eight”.
This hypnotic track is another that was already well known in Jamaica as a Wailers theme, and became Marley’s first hit song outside his homeland. Stir It Up was first released in 1967, and in 1972 American singer Johnny Nash released a Top 15 hit version in both the United States and the United Kingdom, perhaps encouraging Marley to return to record for next album. ‘Stir It Up’ also features Wayne Perkins, again, with a wah-wah-infused guitar. The lyrics are relaxing and sensual and it has been said that Marley originally wrote the song for his wife, Rita. It’s the longest song on the album: five minutes and 32 seconds of the irresistible classical elements of reggae music: funky guitar, conga, keyboards and that steady, rocker beat.
7. Kinky Reggae
A relaxed and cheerful song that remained a fan favorite and was almost always played at Marley concerts. Kinky Reggae, following the example of Stir It Up, is full of joy and demands that the listener engage in good times and a little smell.
Fans have speculated about Marley’s lyrics to the song (it could be a coded drug story, a celebration of promiscuous sex, or a secret show of support for the queer community), but most critics agree. of someone who cannot conform. down and that is full of positive vibrations.
8. No more problems
No More Trouble has few lyrics, the main ones being “We don’t need no more trouble”, repeated several times by Marley, as well as in the harmonic choruses of Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths. Her beauty and power are in this evocative simplicity.
A virtual collaboration with Erykah Badu was the first track on a 1999 remix album by hip-hop and rock artists, produced by Stephen Marley, called Cant Down Babylon.
9. Midnight ravers
With a classic bass line by Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett baptizing with conviction and pushing the track forward, Midnight Ravers finishes the album with a sense of optimism and persistence. With the repeated “don’t disappoint me!”, Marley reminds listeners that she trusts them to help spread the message of her music and be part of the positive change she seeks to bring to the world.