Bob Marley & The Wailers

Catch a Fire [Bonus Tracks] [Remastered]

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Review

For a majority of the world, Catch a Fire was not only the introduction to Bob Marley the Wailers, but to reggae as well. The intimate and organic nature of the band's compositions coupled with its trademark mantra-like rhythms attracted the attention of producer and musical entrepreneur Chris Blackwell. So smitten was Blackwell that he commissioned the band to record for his primarily rock-oriented Island Records label. Although greatly encouraged by the Wailers' efforts, Blackwell was likewise cognizant of creating a fuller and more polished effort aimed specifically for the ears of the burgeoning "album rock" consumer. His idea was to "flesh out" the sonic atmosphere that supported and drove Marley and company's otherwise stark and unadorned folk songs. With the blessings of Marley and under the direction of Blackwell, sporadic instrumental augmentations were made, featuring Wayne Perkins (guitar), John "Rabbit" Bundrick (keyboards), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), and Tyrone Downie (organ). Although Catch a Fire was their international debut, Marley and fellow Wailer Peter Tosh used the medium to conjure and translate universal themes of love ("High Tide or Low Tide") and hope ("Stir It Up"), as well as the pain ("400 Years") and fear ("Slave Driver") of not only Jamaicans, but all humanity. Like Bob Dylan and John Lennon before him, Marley could project not only for his people and time, but also for those who would come before and after. The 2001 remastered version also comes with two bonus tracks that were not issued on the original LP, "High Tide or Low Tide" and "All Day All Night." Enthusiasts should also be aware of the two-disc Catch a Fire: Deluxe Edition, including the "Jamaican Version" (read: sans overdubs) of this timeless album. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi

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