Natty Dread album review, 1974
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Natty Dread Album Review, November 1974

BLACK MUSIC NOVEMBER 1974

Bob Marley & The Wailers `Natty Dread` (Island ILPS 9281)

Lively Up Yourself / No Woman No Cry / Belly Full (But We Hungry) /
Rebel Music (Three O`Clock Road Block) / So Jah Seh/Natty Dread /
Bend Down Low / Talkin Blues / Revolution:-

The Wailers could surely be the hottest bunch of black musicians around if they had a Stateside hit with a song like “Road Block”. They`d benefit from the fact that rival companies could not find another Jamaican group like them . If there are any musicians who command as much personal reverence and respect as Marley, they have not been forthcoming. There are no substitutes for Aston and Carlton Barrett, either. This album achieves a good balance between the traditionally earthy Wailers` music and the influences of pop/rock music. It is aggressive, sober and serious. Often it is a threatening and lyrical force of harmony, melody and rhythm. “Rebel Music” (Three O`Clock Road Block) is the outstanding cut, making a political statement with clarity and an economy of words and music. The introduction of the I Three (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths) adds a vibrant new dimension to the Wailers` music, seen at its most poignant again in “Road Block” which is also a great dance record with its delightfully sensuous rhythm. “Belly Full” is another success. But the “message” of “Revolution” is much less effective due to the song`s lack of subtlety. Words like “lightning, thunder, brimstone and fire” are wasted. The terror they are supposed to evoke never materialises. “Talkin Blues” is better but less effective than it could have been. The new version of “Lively Up Yourself” is an improvement on the original, the new riff and poignant bluesy guitar phrases showing signs of a rock influence on Marley. The best dance number is “Natty Dread”, a real success because of its earthy simplicity and repetitive chorus (celebrating the dreadlocks rasta vogue) which harks back to the Wailers` “Small Axe” style. Surprisingly I prefer the new “love” song “No Woman No Cry” to the new version of their old song “Bend Down Low”. Marley shows a real sense of sympathy, understanding, and tenderness as he sings”oh little darling don`t shed no tears / no woman no cry. . .”. Unfortunately “So Jah Seh” was not the right choice for a single. It should have been either “Natty Dread” or “No Woman No Cry”. The album was made without the services of Bunny Livingstone and Pete Tosh but still shows much progress since “Burnin”.
Carl Gayle:-
BLACK MUSIC NOVEMBER 1974

Natty Dread

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