1973, Music

Catch a Fire [Jamaican Version] (1973) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

I generally rag on Marley for his lyrics. I find most reggae lyricist to be not that great, but I find Marley in particular to have been over-hyped. Once you listen to Peter Tosh (who only wrote two of the songs here) it’s hard to take Marley this seriously as a lyricist. So I thought.

But I find Marley’s songs here to have better lyrics than I was expecting, based on their other records I’ve heard. It helps that Tosh contributes songs, but Marley’s lyrics are more specific on some songs here (as well as not always about sex and world peace) so that I actually think there’s substance here, which is not something I feel I could have said about some of the later records. (I still think Tosh is the better lyricist but at least here it doesn’t feel like it’s no contest.)

The melodies of these songs are strong, as you would expect. Whatever Marley lacks as a lyricist he more than makes up for with his sense of melody (which made reggae popular around the world).

It’s hard for me to know where this sits in the Wailers’ canon, or within reggae at large, because I’ve listened to so little, and most of what I’ve listened to is from the late ’70s, but I know I like this better than the other Marley records I’ve heard, so that’s something.

All songs were written by Bob Marley, except where noted.

  1. “Concrete Jungle” 4:11
  2. “Stir It Up” 3:37
  3. “High Tide or Low Tide” 4:40
  4. “Stop That Train” (Tosh) 3:52
  5. “400 Years” (Tosh) 2:57
  6. “Baby We’ve Got a Date (Rock It Baby)” 4:00
  7. “Midnight Ravers” 5:05
  8. “All Day All Night” 3:26
  9. “Slave Driver” 2:52
  10. “Kinky Reggae” 3:40
  11. “No More Trouble” 5:13
  • Peter Tosh – organ, guitar, piano, vocals
  • Bob Marley – guitar, vocals
  • Bunny Wailer – bongos, conga, vocals
  • Aston “Family Man” Barrett – bass guitar
  • Carlton “Carlie” Barrett – drums
  • Rita Marley – backing vocals
  • Marcia Griffiths – backing vocals

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