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Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars #5. The Top 100 Albums in Reggae Music: A Critical Review, 25 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Catch A Fire (Audio CD)
I don't know what grabs you most about CATCH A FIRE, the first studio album that Bob Marley and The Wailers made for Chris Blackwell's Island Records in 1973.

Was it the stripped-down, simple chords that ran through the album? Was it the choir-like harmonies and barely noticeable synthesizers that adorned this low key collection that makes it a painless, listening pleasure?

The original album was entitled, The Wailers: Catch A Fire and the graphics department decided to have some fun and create an album cover from the old, gun-metal cigarette lighters that was popular in the 50's & 60's. They were able to meet the initial printing of 20,000 copies before they discovered that it was not logistically possible to do so both financially and productively. But an even bigger problem was just beyond the horizon when Chris Blackwell decided that he need to have a name and face attached to the group. It was a music-industry practice that proved to be a bane and a boom if the group became a success. It was something no one was ever able to convince Peter Tosh of.

The original album is collection of 8 songs that cover the broad gambit of reggae themes such as protest songs, love songs and the celebratory pan-African themes. But, like every Bob Marley album and especially what makes Bob Marley's albums different from every other reggae album is that his songs go beyond--way beyond--the simple obligatory homage to reggae loyalist. His songs strike to the heart of what's universal. That's why when we hear a Bob Marley song or we sing a Marley song or ever see a picture of him, the themes that he so eloquently chanted comes rushing back to our present consciousness.

His brilliance was that he could use simple metaphors and sing them in such a soft almost passive way but we understood the anger, the frustration, the delusion, the euphoria of being a human being. In these songs, we clearly see the complexities of our lives and our relationships.

Since this deluxe edition has two versions of Catch A Fire, it should be mentioned that when The Wailers and subsequently, Bob Marley & The Wailers produced their albums they made two version of each album. There was an international version and there was a "Jamaican" version. If you've ever traveled down to Jamaica and listened closely to a Wailers song, you'll think it was some kind of remix, but it is the standard version that the Jamaica people know and would think that the cd versions we have outside is the "strange" version.

In addition to the more well-known songs that have been covered umpteen times by as many artists over the years like "Concrete Jungle," "Slave Driver," "Stir It Up," and "No More Trouble," you also have two songs where Peter Tosh sings lead and it is a refreshing break to hear him man such songs as "400 Years," and "Stop That Train."

But in addition to Tosh's songs, you have two catchy ballads "Kinky Reggae" and "Baby, Baby We've Got A Date."

In 1996, Mobile Fidelity, the premier audiophile remastering company, produced the second of only two (2) Bob Marley albums for their catalog. Mobile Fidelity (or "MoFi" or "MFSL") presses select albums from the master copies and places the `cleaned up" sound on 24-karat gold discs. The sound reproduction is unparalleled. If you're able to get a hold of the MoFi edition of Catch a Fire and Exodus, it is well worth the investment, especially if you have high end stereo equipment.

CATCH A FIRE: The 5th Greatest Reggae Album of All Time.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Jul 2014 19:33:09 BDT
R. Jones says:
Hi Andre, was wondering what the rest of your top 5 reggae albums looks like, thanks Roy

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2014 22:56:07 BDT
Hi R Jones!

I should have completed this list seeing my crates of lp's and cd I have. I'll begin working on it again but I was thinking about your question at work-- I'm struggling with which other Marley, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear I should consider.

I'll update soon. Thanks for reminding me.
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