Catch a Fire was the first Reggae album I became aware of... OK I knew about Desmond Decker, and Jimmy Cliff, but to my mind, at that time they were singles artists.
The Wailers' timeless single Stir It Up had percolated into my consciousness, I had seen them plying their spiritual/political-but- oh-so-laid-back tunes on Whistle Test and I wanted to know more. Island had obviously pumped a lot of cash into these guys, the album cover was amazing... a 12" scaled up, fully hinged and opening cardboard effigy of a Zippo lighter!
The album is chock- full of great tunes; 400 Years, Concrete Jungle, Kinky Reggae, Stir It Up... they became much loved tunes. I since became a fan, bought all of the albums, but to my mind this one, along with African Herbsman is their best. The later albums are more coffee table friendly, but I still prefer the rootsy feel of the earlier releases.
Chris Blackwell of Island wanted the album to have more crossover appeal to break Marley to an international market, and overdubbed synths, clavinet and other instrumentation and axed a couple of tunes.
Here with this release, we have a digitally remastered version of the UK release, along with a remastered disk of the original Jamaican release. The differences are subtle but telling, but when the Blackwell magic is removed, what we re left with is the pure and raw sound of a Jamaican rising star.
I am personally well pleased with this new found mix and it gets played with preference to the 70's release at every opportunity. This is the missing link between early Marley and his commercial international breakthrough and it makes fascinating listening.