The road to Florida sunshine continues, and so does the burst of reggae. Today we have our first offering from the King of Reggae himself, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and at this point in time, Peter Tosh is also a part of the fun. Today’s album is “Catch a Fire”, which is album #140 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, as well as #5 on rateyourmusic.com’s Top 10 Greatest Reggae Albums of All Time.
This was the fifth album for the Wailers, but they were still looking for a big breakthrough. With some good connections and solid support from the recording industry, Marley was able to record and release this album to reasonable commercial success, continuing to advance his cause as one of the leaders of the reggae music movement. Working with producer Chris Blackwell and well-known session musicians like Wayne Perkins on guitar and John “Rabbit” Bundrick, who also worked with the Who as well as creating much of the music for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Marley, Tosh and the Wailers recorded nine tracks, all true to their core sound.
The album opens with two Marley tracks, “Concrete Jungle” and “Slave Driver”, that illustrated Marley’s commitment to social justice and a better world, beyond the happy circle of his musical impact. Next comes two Peter Tosh songs, the first being “400 Years”, which has a very unusual timing and beat to it, and “Stop That Train”. I do appreciate the contrast in voice between Marley and Tosh, with Tosh having the deeper tone in comparison to Marley.
The remainder of the album are all Marley songs, with the highlight being “Stir It Up”, which opens up side two. By far the most recognizable song to any reggae novice like myself, the beautiful backing vocals from Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths add such a rich depth to the beauty of this song. “Kinky Reggae”, “No More Trouble”, and “Midnight Ravens” are all right in step on this defining album for Marley and the Wailers, and it’s a safe bet I will have this one spinning later today as I breath ocean air and look back out upon the sand and waves.