Bob Marley and the Wailers - Catch a Fire Review
by Zane Ewton
The Classic Albums DVD series has highlighted many important rock and roll records. Towering classics like Metallica, The Joshua Tree and Hysteria have received a behind the scenes look into what it took to build a classic album.
Bob Marley and the Wailers have a few classic records, but it is their worldwide breakthrough, Catch a Fire, that is highlighted with this release.
Unfortunately, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh are not around anymore, but their presence looms large over the music, in private archived footage and with previous interviews. Many of the session musicians, as well as characters ranging from Rita Marley to the band's Rastafarian counselor take time to explain their roles on the album. The bulk of the time goes to the surviving original Wailer, Bunny Wailer, and Chris Blackwell.
Blackwell was the producer on Catch a Fire and was the head of Island Records. He mentions several times of his intention to take the Wailers to a worldwide audience. By taking the fundamental elements of reggae and surrounding it with touches of classic rock and roll, Blackwell expected to take the Wailers beyond their native Jamaica.
Catch a Fire was the Wailers first major label record. The minor touches Blackwell put on their music only helped to make it more palpable to a rock audience. Marley's songs are to be given credit for making the band legendary and effectively outgrowing reggae music to become crucial world music.
This wasn't always the Bob Marley show. Peter Tosh gave hints of the amazing solo performer he would soon become on the beautiful "Stop the Train".
From top to bottom the record is impeccable put together. The songs range from political and social commentary to simple love songs. The DVD is driven by the incredible live performances of the Wailers, ending with one of the first performances of the soon-to-be Marley standard "Get Up, Stand Up".
Bob Marley became essentially a solo performer following Catch a Fire, as Tosh and Wailer went on to their own successful careers. It didn't faze him as he went on to create a string of classic albums accepted the world over in the wake of Catch a Fire's popularity. An amazing record and the DVD is a classy companion.
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Bob Marley and the Wailers - Catch a Fire
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