Trojan
 

The greatness of any individual can be measured in their influence upon their given field. This is particularly true of popular music; a profession so competitive that only those possessing extraordinary talent that their work is likely endure the test of time. And of this rare breed there have been a handful of acts whose legacy has been so overwhelming that they have become synonymous with their respective style; fifties Rock 'N' Roll had Elvis, sixties Pop had the Beatles and seventies Reggae had Bob Marley.

In stark contrast to the luxurious lifestyle he was to enjoy later in life, Robert Nesta Marley's early childhood was spent in relative poverty in rural surroundings of the Jamaican countryside. Having come into the world on 6th February 1945 at Nine Miles in the Parish of St. Anne's, Bob was the sole offspring of a union between a middle-aged white man called 'Captain' Norval Sinclair Marley and his young Afro-Jamaican bride, Cedella. Soon after Bob's birth, his father moved away to Kingston, leaving Cedella to raise the boy alone, although the need to earn a living resulted in much of Bob's childhood being spent under the supervision of family members or friends. Finally, in 1957 Cedella settled in a one-room apartment at 19 Second Street in Trench town, Kingston and it was here that the young boy spent the remainder of his formative years.

Housing much of Kingston's under-privileged population, Trench Town was a hotbed of creative talent, with many of its inhabitants later making their mark on the local music scene. None more so, of course, than Bob himself and while fame was still a long way off, music had already begun to play an important role in his life. During this time, the teenager was exposed to a rich variety of sounds, including gospel music sung at the local church, the Mento and Calypso styling's of local musicians, while a variety of American Rhythm & Blues, Rock 'N' Roll, Country and Jazz could all be heard pouring out of the myriad radio sets strung around the neighbourhood yards. This multitude of styles all had an influence in shaping the young man's developing musical tastes, which were further honed by the evening music sessions held by local Rastafarian singer/songwriter, Joe Higgs at his home in Third Street. Already a celebrated figure on the Jamaican music scene. Higgs had enjoyed considerable success with a number of hits partnered by Roy Wilson, and his evening tutorials were to leave a profound impression on the young boy.

Accompanying Bob to these educational gatherings was an old school friend, Neville 'Bunny' Livingstone (b.23rd April 1947) whom he had befriended in St. Anne's some years earlier and whose father was now romantically involved with Cedella. Another teenager drawn to Higgs' sessions was a tall, Gangly youth called Peter McIntosh (b.19th October 1944), who had only recently moved to the area, having previously lived with his aunt in the picturesque coastal town of Savanna-La-Mar and later, Denham Town in west Kingston.

Peter was the proud owner of a real, if somewhat battered guitar and his rudimentary playing skills greatly impressed Bob and Bunny who soon began harmonising with their fellow pupil. Before long, their ranks were further swelled by three more young singers; Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith and upon deciding on a permanent union, the sextet began calling themselves the aptly named, Later they adopted collective moniker of the Six Teens before finally deciding upon a more enduring name: the Wailers.

By now, Bob had begun work as an apprentice welder, after completing his schooling at fourteen, but following an accident which almost left him blind in his right eye, he decided to concentrate solely on his music career. Soon after his decision, Bob's talents as a singer and songwriter came to the attention of popular local singer, Derrick Morgan, who was currently working in the capacity as a talent scout for producer Leslie Kong, having already signed two previous unknown teenagers, Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekker to Kong's Beverley's label, Morgan sought to unearth similar undiscovered talents and in Bob, he recognised the potential for greatness.

A subsequent session at Federal studios resulted in the youngster cutting four original compositions, 'One Cup Of Coffee', 'Judge Not', 'Do You Still Love Me' and 'Terror'. Disappointingly, Kong withheld the latter, while none of the remaining three sides created a stir locally and just a few weeks after fulfilling his dream of becoming a recording artiste, Bob was unceremoniously dropped from Kong's roster of artists.

Devastated by the failure of his brief solo career, Bob immersed himself with his work with the Wailers, who by now had been groomed into a cohesive vocal unit by Higgs and another music tutor, called Alvin 'Seeco' Patterson. It was the latter, who towards the close of 1963, arranged for the sextet to audition for leading producer, Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, a man widely regarded as having the keenest ear in the business. Upon hearing the group perform a number of self-penned songs, Dodd promptly drew up a five-year contract, to which the six excited teenagers hastily put their names. The Wailers were on their way.

At the sextet's first session at Dodd's newly opened Studio One in Brentford Road, Kingston, the Wailers cut two original numbers, 'I'm Still Waiting' and 'It Hurts To Be Alone', which were coupled together on a limited numbers of blank pre-release singles. Both sides were well received among audiences gathered at Dodd's 'Sir Coxsone's Downbeat' dances and prompted the producer to arrange a follow up session for the youngsters soon after. By this time, Cherry Smith had been ousted for unprofessional behaviour, while Braithwaite had left the group in readiness for his immanent emigration to Chicago. his departure left the way open for Bob to assume the mantle of lead vocalist, a role he rarely relinquished over the years that followed. The first song recorded by the new, slimmed down Wailers was 'Simmer Down', the lyrics of which implored Jamaica's so-called rude boys to refrain from the anti-social and often violent behaviour that had become a serious problem in many of Kingston's poorer areas. The record's driving Ska beat, infectious melody and topical subject matter all contributed to its enormous popularity, with the disc officially recognised as the island's top-selling record early in 1964. The Wailers had made the big time and over the next few years, they were rarely out of the Jamaican charts, recording around a hundred different titles, as well as providing backing vocals on numerous other releases for the Dodd's Studio One operation.

During this period Bob first met and befriended Alvarita (Rita) Anderson, a pretty teenager who resided with her uncle and aunt in Kingston after being brought to the island from Cuba when she was only three. Rita had musical ambitions of her own and for the past year or so had fronted the Soulettes, an all female vocal trio also signed to Dodd's roster of artistes. Rita and Bob's friendship soon blossomed into romance and on February 10th 1966, the pair cemented their relationship by marrying at a friend's house in Trench Town. The very next day Bob left Jamaica for Wilmington, Delaware, where his mother Cedella had spent the last few years with her second husband, Edward Booker. His aim was to start a better life in a new country and once settles, he intended to send for his new bride.

Two months after Bob's departure for America, his wife experienced an event that was to have a profound effect on the future lives of herself, her husband and ultimately, thousands of fellow Jamaicans. On April 21st 1966, His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia paid a state visit to the country - his appearance on Jamaican soil sparking mass celebrations among many of the inhabitants, particularly the small, but devout Rastafarian community that regarded the royal personage to be Christ born again. As his cavalcade drove through the massed streets of Kingston, Rita caught sight of the Emperor waving to the crowds and saw what she believed to be the 'stigmata' or sign of the crucifixion embedded in the palm of his hand. She immediately wrote to Bob informing him of the experience and when she flew to Delaware four months later, further explained why she now considered the Rastafarian belief in the divinity of the emperor to be correct. Bob had previously encountered many Rastas during his time in Trench Town and when in October, he finally gave up on his American dream and returned to Jamaica, he decided to investigate the religion further, befriending Mortimer Planner, a devout Rastafarian who, over the ensuing months was instrumental in converting the singer to the faith.

By this time, Bob and his fellow Wailers had come to the decision that their future recording career would be best served if they were rid of any external control and so, around the close of 1966, the trio left Dodd's employ to launch their own Wail 'N' Soul 'M' label. Sales of the initial release on the imprint, 'Bend Down Low' spurred the group to produce further sides, but despite the quality of the subsequent releases, difficulties with distribution resulted in the label running into financial difficulties and by the end of 1968, the trio had given up on the project. In desperate need of capital, the Wailers signed a songwriting deal with JAD, a newly formed Jamaican based record company owned by American Soul singer, Johnny Nash and his associates Danny Simms and Arthur Jenkins.

Over the next few years, both Bob and Peter submitted a number of songs to the organisation, the demos of which have only recently seen issue. 1969 proved a hit free year for the group. A session organised by Edward 'Bunny' Lee at Randy's studio spawned a laudable remake of their own old Ska releases, 'Mr. Talkative', retitled 'Mr. Chatterbox', while possibly from the same time came renderings of the Archies' Bubblegum chart topper, 'Sugar, Sugar' and the Box Tops hit, 'The Letter'. Other releases from the year included 'Adam And Eve', 'Wisdom'. 'Thank You Lord' and 'This Train', the recordings of which had been financed by a Dutchman called Ted Pounder. Although the songs made little impression locally, they are notable for being among the first by the group to highlight the Rastafarian beliefs that all three members had by now embraced.

Another producer with whom the Wailers worked that year was a man who would later rejuvenate their flagging career and set them on the path to international stardom: Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Scratch had first encountered the group during their sojourn with 'Coxsone' Dodd, for whom he had worked in a number of capacities, including songwriter, performer, producer and talent spotter. His own departure from Dodd's employ had coincided with that of the Wailers and in the years that immediately followed, he had worked for a number of operators, before finally launching Upsetter Records in 1968. After scoring a number of hits on the local Jamaican charts, Scratch had hit the jackpot with his international best-seller, 'Return Of Django' and by the time he came to reunite with Bob, Peter and Bunny, he was firmly established as one of Kingston's leading independent producers.

According to Scratch's own accounts, his first collaboration with the Wailers was a song called 'Try Me', although it seems the track was withheld from release for some months, while 'My Cup', from the same session, was duly issued. Although the latter failed to impress the Jamaican record buying public, it marked the beginning of a relationship that would later result in some of the finest Reggae music ever heard.

In the meantime, in the spring of 1970, the trio signed with Leslie Kong, who since launching Bob's recording career had become the most commercially successful producer in Reggae music, having scored international hits with a number of acts, most notably Toots & the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, the Pioneers and the Melodians. Frustratingly for the Wailers, it was this abundance of talent that prevented Kong from investing much time on his latest charges and while the group cut a series of impressive recordings under his supervision, a hit of note failed to materialise.

But thankfully, their barren spell would soon be over, with scratch inevitably proving their saviour. In an interview for 'Black Music' magazine in 1975, the producer explained how he and Bob came to write two songs that finally put the group back on the road to success.

"One Saturday I was doing some recording at a little shop in Orange Street. I said to him Bob Marley, 'Well look here Bob, I want you to write a tune with, 'yes me friend, we on the street again' in it.' He gave me the third line, I gave him the fourth and so on. we started to work together and the ideas started to flow 'till finally we made the tune 'Duppy Conqueror'. Then he come up with the idea, 'I'm a rebel, Soul rebel' and I arranged the music for that. He wrote the lyrics. Those were two straight hits."

Release in the summer of 1970, 'Duppy Conqueror' marked a turning point in the group's career and over the ensuing months, the Wailers' fortunes remained on the ascendant, with the aforementioned 'Soul Rebels' 'Mr. Brown' and 'Four Hundred Years' among their best-known recordings from this time. Later that year, Scratch issued a collection of the group's work entitled 'Soul Rebels', which after being picked up for release by Trojan Records in the UK, became their first internationally released. The trio's run of hits continued well into 1971, with notable sides including 'Sun Is Shining', 'Small Axe', 'Kaya' and 'African Herbsman', all of which were gathered on a second Scratch-produced album entitled 'Soul Revolution'.

Upon Scratch's promptings, the Wailers also launched the Tuff Gong label around this time, and early in the summer of 1971, the group issued what proved to be the best-selling Jamaican record of the year: 'Trench Town Rock'. The popularity of the disc was almost matched by 'Lively Up yourself', issued a few months later and the success of these two Tuff gong releases enabled the trio to achieve full creative independence. Later that year, the Wailers' ranks were further swelled with the addition of brothers Carlton and Aston 'Family Man' Barrett who had previously played drums and bass respectively on the bulk of the group's sessions for Scratch.

Early in 1972, the group travelled to London in an effort to crack the overseas market, but after just a handful of poorly organised shows, their tour collapsed, leaving the quintet stranded and penniless. In desperation, they made an appointment to see Chris Blackwell, an Anglo-Jamaican who had launched Island Records in Jamaica in the late fifties, prior to successfully transplanting his business in Britain in 1962. After becoming a major player on the British West Indian music scene, Blackwell had turned his attention to mainstream Rock and Pop acts, although he had never fully abandoned his roots and was interested in the Wailers' proposition. At their meeting, the entrepreneur agreed to advance the group £4,000 in the return for the promise of an album's worth of finished material, with a second installment of the same amount to be paid upon receipt of the finished master tapes. The group promptly flew back home and immediately commenced - by the close of the year, Blackwell had his album: 'Catch A Fire'. Released in the UK in December 1972, the LP was the first collection of Reggae recordings to be marketed specifically for a white audience and its subsequent success was profound and marked the beginning of the globalisation of Reggae music.

Sell-out European and American tours followed, along with their second critically acclaimed Island album, 'Burnin'', but around the close of 1973, Bunny and Peter quit the group. initially distraught by their departure, Bob eventually enlisted his wife Rita, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt - collectively known as the I Threes - as long-term replacements. In the meantime, he had briefly reunited with Scratch to record three songs at the producer's newly opened Black Ark studio - 'Jah Is Mighty', 'Turn Me Loose' and 'Keep On Skanking', all of which are on this collection.

Over the years that followed, both Peter and Bunny became successful solo stars in their own right, but it was Bob and his new Wailers whose career went from strength to strength, taking the music world by storm with a succession of internationally successful albums and sell-out tours. Around the close of 1976, with Bob now an established international celebrity, he once again collaborated with the producer he had recently heralded as a genius cutting 'Rainbow Country' and 'I Know A Place' at the Scratch's Black Ark studio.

Soon after, Bob survived an assassination attempt and in the first week of 1977, he left Jamaica, remaining in a self-imposed exile before finally returning home the following February. Later that year, he embarked on another world tour to promote his newest latest album, 'Kaya', although mid-way through the gruelling schedule, he returned home to reunite with Scratch once again to record what proved to be their final collaborative efforts. By now, Scratch's behaviour had become increasingly erratic and despite the obvious commercial appeal of the resulting tracks, 'Who Colt The Game' and 'I Know A Place', neither were completed and remained unissued for some twenty years.

Bob continued to spread the message of Reggae and Rastafarianism around the globe throughout the remainder of the decade, but after collapsing while on the American leg of a world tour in September 1980, he was diagnosed as having cancer. For the next year or so, he battled bravely against the ravages of the disease, but on May 21st 1981, he lost his struggle and passed away. Just six years later, on 11th September 1987, Peter Tosh was gunned down during a robbery in his Kingston home, leaving only Bunny Livingstone as the only remaining member from the classic Wailers line-up.

The songs featured on this CD are among the finest works created by a man who forever will be remembered as the King of Reggae and whose music will prove equally as enduring.

Quite simply, there  will never be another Bob Marley.

LAURENCE CANE-HONEYSETT

Adam and Eve
Thank You Lord
Wisdom
Mr. Chatterbox
Stop The Train
Soul Captives
Caution
Can't You See
Soul Shakedown Party
Go Tell It On The Mountain
Soon Come
Do It Twice
Back Out
Cheer Up
My Cup
Try Me
Sun Is Shining
Duppy Conqueror
Soul Rebel
Run For Cover
Man To Man (aka Who The Cap Fit)
Mr. Brown
Reaction
Corner Stone
Four Hundred Years
No Water (Can Quench My Thirst)
(Keep That) Love Light (Burning)
Small Axe
All In One (Medley Parts 1 & 2)
Don't Rock The Boat
Dreamland
Put It On
Fussing And Fighting
Kaya
Stand Alone
Keep On Moving
African Herbsman
Down Presser
Trenchtown Rock
Lively Up Yourself
Redder Than Red
Brand New Second Hand
Concrete Jungle
Satisfy My Soul
Jah Is Mighty
Turn Me Loose
Keep On Skanking
Rainbow Country
Natural Mystic
I Know A Place
Who Colt The Game

Trojan
All material © Trojan Records