Bunny Wailer’s 1976 masterpiece ‘Black heart Man’ is simply one of the greatest reggae recordings ever. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Wailers album with Bunny on lead, featuring Carlton Barrett on drums, Family Man on bass, Tyrone Downie on organ/keys, Neville Garrick on percussion, Karl Pitterson on acoustic guitar, and even Bob Marley on backing vocals. Guitar work is handled superbly by session guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith. Peter Tosh appears on the album as well playing rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals, melodica, and harmonica. Legendary riddim twins Sly and Robbie are also included in the sessions for ‘Blackheart Man.’
The origins of the album title goes back to Wailer’s childhood in the Jamaican countryside, where he grew up in the same little village as his friend Bob Marley. Wailer said:
“Well, the Blackheart Man is a very serious fable; when we were kids, we all grew up hearing about this Blackheart Man, and we were told that you had to be careful of strangers who might walk up to you and invite you into a situation, or you might be found in the lonely countryside, or in the gullies, or anywhere that this individual might have shown up, and then he would take your heart out. So it brought fear on all the youths of that time when they heard the name, Blackheart Man. So I did the album based on my experiences.”
Bunny Wailer himself considers ‘Blackheart Man’ to be his best solo album. As he told Jamaican newspaper the Daily Gleaner in June 2009:
“I will make good albums, yes, for I have made good albums – Liberation, Protest, Struggle, My Father’s House, Rock and Groove. All them album is really good album – Marketplace. But Blackheart Man is really an exceptional album, as to the valuation of the message and the amount of people who have received that message and have made themselves better people through them lives within the spiritual and cultural settings that the Blackheart Man exhibits.”
Included here is the Jamaican or “ruff” mix of the album. Although the Jamaican mix has not appeared on CD, it remains a favorite amongst reggae aficionados. Give thanks to friend of the blog, and my good friend, Jah Lion of the Dynamic Duo for coming through with the lossless (FLAC) audio files.
Also included is the B-side version to “Armagideon (Armagedon),” which was digitized from the original 7″ vinyl 45 pressing.
“Armagideon (Armagedon)” Version
Here is an interview of Bunny Wailer by Paul Issa which appeared in the Jamaica Gleaner on August 29, 1976.