Catch A Fire (Remastered 2013)
Bob Marley was already a hardened veteran of the Jamaican music scene by the time that Catch a Fire saw international release in the spring of 1973. He had recorded low-slung New Orleans style R&B with Leslie Kong, soaring Rocksteady with Coxsone Dodd and adventurous, uncompromising Roots music with the inimitable Lee Perry. Had his career ended in 1972 Marley would still be one of the pre-eminent figures in Jamaican music, but the release of Catch a Fire, one of the first internationally distributed Roots records, set Marley on the path to global superstardom and changed the general public’s conception of reggae forever. While singers like John Holt Desmond Dekker and The Heptones’ Leroy Sibbles had achieved commercial success in the UK and, to a lesser extent, in America with their lovelorn Rocksteady balladry and rowdily picturesque gunman anthems, Marley’s Catch a Fire was unique for its strident political stance and unadorned Roots textures. From the plaintive ghetto reportage of “Concrete Jungle” to the sufferers’ manifesto “400 Years”, Marley, along with fellow Wailers Bunny Marley and Peter Tosh, gives us a street level view of Kingston life with his stunning melodic sensibility and deft lyricism. While Marley would go on to even greater success with his next few releases, Catch a Fire provided a blueprint for his future triumphs, and remains one of the most revelatory Jamaican albums ever recorded.