Friday, 1 June 2018
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Burnin' (1973)
Released October 1973
Recorded at Harry J's, Kingston, Jamaica
Following on from the huge success of “Catch A Fire”, The Wailers returned at the end of the same year with another heady mix of politically conscious skanking reggae mixed with tuneful rocksteady precursors to what was known in the late 70s as “Lovers’ Rock”.
The “message” songs were the sloganeering “Get Up, Stand Up”, the implicit questioning of the police in “I Shot The Sheriff”, the bleak, self-explanatory “Burnin’ And Lootin’” and the David vs Goliath rebellion of “Small Axe”. All militant, aware protest songs coming straight from the poverty of the tenement yards of Kingston, Jamaica.
The love and romance was to be found in “Put It On”, “One Foundation” and “Pass It On”. There was also a reference to Jamaican backwoods superstition in the “ghostbusting” “Duppy Conqueror”. All these tracks underpinned by the wonderful rhythm section of The Wailers. Reggae of the highest quality.
A notable first in this collection of songs was the first direct references to Rastafarianism and the Rasta cult. “Hallelujah Time” and the stark conga-based rhythm of “Rasta Man Chant” saw Marley “come out” as a Rasta for the first time, both lyrically and musically, particularly on the latter track.The Wailers were now almost mainstream, even Eric Clapton had a big hit with his credible cover of “I Shot The Sheriff”. The original cannot really be beaten though. In many ways, these first two albums were the group’s finest. 1976’s “Rastaman Vibration” has a case to be put up there alongside them, but in my view, these two take 1977’s hugely popular and commercially far more successful “Exodus” to the cleaners. This was also the last album to feature Peter Tosh, and although he went on to produce some excellent solo material, this also could have been his finest year.