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Rare Marley and Tosh Acoustic Session, 1973

Today I am sharing a rare jam session featuring Bob Marley and Peter Tosh circa 1973.  This jam session, recorded by Wailers’ member Lee Jaffe, is one of many that occur at the Island House at 56 Hope Road in 1973.  Music is played around the clock at the Island House during this period.



1. Studio Chatter
2. Come Together Close
3. Studio Chatter
4. Nice Time

As you probably know by now, I place a lot of importance on press archives.  I think these articles and interviews are of significant importance because they cast Bob Marley and the Wailers as they were at the time – a struggling band playing a new genre of music that many did not understand.

These archives strip away any of the pre-conceptions that we have as fans based on the 30+ years of worldwide super stardom, biographies, compilations, documentaries, folklore and fanfare we have endured since Marley’s untimely death in 1981.

I have included 2 articles on the emerging reggae scene of 1972-1973.  One is a profile of reggae in Britain at a time when the Wailers embarked on their first tour there.  The other is a review of “Catch A Fire”, the once-failure of an album that is now regarded as one of the greatest ever recorded in popular music.


The Wailers: Catch A Fire

Gene Sculatti, Fusion, May 1973

“AFTER ALL THESE years, a new Wailers’ LP! But wait, Catch A Fire doesn’t have anything to do with those soggy Seattle-ites who rocked hot and cool in the days of old. These Wailers hail from Jamaica in the Caribbean, home of rum, brown sugar, crumbling colonial forts, white duck togs, blacks with goofy English accents and this kind of music they call reggae.

I’m no expert on reggae at all, but I know what I like (Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Nash and Desmond Dekker‘s boffo Israelites album) and a passable amount of history; i.e., the Kingston Sound came north in the mid-‘50s on the shoulders of the deep-staring Harry Belafonte, failed to insinuate itself into the national consciousness via the Ska craze of the early ‘60s (at which point these here Wailers under Bob Marley commenced to function), poked through again in ’64 on the wings of Millie Small‘s confectionery triumph, has been going great guns across the pond for years and most recently has tugged the coattails of AM addicts with ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ and ‘I Can See Clearly Now’.

What can I say about reggae and The Wailers that’ll sell you on ’em? ‘Many parts are edible!’? How about: this music knocks me out in a manner not that different from the way those first Beatle discs did back in 1964. Which is not intended as a pronounce-ment, but rather as an intimation of the base potency this music possesses. Since there haven’t been all that many completely unique rock & roll musics — flukes, hybrids, readymades, whatever — each time you do come across a distinctly different one for the first time, it tends to be a rather delicious experience.

There’s these foreigners, Western Hemisphere black dudes singing movie English, oohing and wee-oohing in that odd distanced manner, bouncing around chunks of very pliable yet almost frictionless instrumental sound that, for all its alien tongue traits, is unquestionably rock ‘n’ roll of the purest universal strain. It has earmarks of American soul, New Orleans rock, the corner crooners of the ‘50s, bubblegum in big doses, even gentle touches of pop psychedelia, and parents, teachers and church leaders are probably jacked up over it somewhere already.

Nor is the appeal sheer novelty. Marley’s Wailers are consistently refreshing in the way successful, enduring groups used to be. Johnny Nash is makinig ‘Stir It Up’ a hit, but the Marley original sounds even better, its combination of sinewy mechanical (Moog/ organ?), calisthenics, primitive sing-song lyri-cism (the closest radio referent I can find is 1971’s faster, yet similarly nursery-rhymed ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep‘; see also the ace pronunciation of ‘bay-bee’), and that hopscotch rhythm make it hard to dispel, fluid yet insistent. Sort of like Mel Torme trying to be sexy.

‘Slave Driver’ balances itself on a light airy vocal repetition of the title phrase (kind of like the start of some typically obscure New York R&B group side, where pregnant pauses and their regular punctuation by keynote choral assaults carry the entire performance) over the buckboard jostle of the bass and drums.

Marley’s vocal on ‘Kinky Reggae’ is absolutely elastic, riding the music’s sandy rhythm with sheer R&R finesse, and there’s more than a trace of smooth Sam Cooke inflection laced through ‘Stop That Train’. If there were adventurous radio programmers, ‘Baby We’ve Got a Date‘, the current single from the LP, would certainly be a smash, thanks to its fashionable Teenage quotes, the superb softshoe rhythm and electric doorbell guitar.

There is a lack of tension and high-strung volume dynamics at work in this music, but you don’t even have to try to overcome the barriers such unfamiliar conditions set up. It’s downright seductive, if you wanna know the truth; you’ll be addicted before you know it and then it’ll be too late.

I can’t speak for the bulk of the potential audience this reggae stuff stands ready to command, but if it’s gonna take simple infectious recipes to provide the cure to a perennially ailing American pop scene, reggae and the services of The Wailers particularly oughta be enlisted pronto. We can always use a few good men.”

© Gene Sculatti, 1973

56 Hope Road 1973 © Esther Anderson

56 Hope Road 1973 © Esther Anderson

56 Hope Road 1973 © Esther Anderson



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