This is twenty tracks of ska released by Bob Marley and the Wailers during the ska years. All songs are backed by the legendary Skatalites and produced at Studio One by Coxsone Dodd.
The first song on the album is a previously unreleased song called "This Train" with lead vocals by Peter Tosh. This song is song almost a capella with just one accoustic guitar as musical accompanyment. Its a pretty good song and it is kind of interesting to hear Peter Tosh and the rest of the Wailers singing such a Christian based song when only a few years later, they would all become devout Rastas. "Amen" is another song with this kind of spiritual feeling to it, but the difference is that "Amen" is a full on ska song whereas "This Train" is accoustic. Peter Tosh also sings lead on "Amen"
"Simmer Down" is the second song on the album and obviously this is a classic song and the first hit for the Wailers. Its a great song with great horn lines and a brilliant sax solo by Tommy McCook. This is also the first song on the album to have a rude boy theme. This theme is carried on again to the 18th song on this collection, "Hooligan" which is just as great a song as "Simmer Down".
"I Am Going Home" is the third track and its said to be the first track that shows Peter Tosh's guitar playing on record. This is a pretty good song and features some pretty good vocalising on the Wailers point. Peters guitar sounds pretty good and it's been said that Coxsone thought of Tosh as being the only real musician in the group at the time. Next is "Do You Remember" whis is the first love song on the record. I think maybe Bob Marley is trying to hard to sing this one but it does have some sweet lyrics and is softlye played in a ska-ballad type of way perfectly by the Skatalites. The lyrics start getting heavy during "Mr. Talkative" though which is serving as a verbal warning saying "those who gossip shall harvest the lethal effects of their words".
The next track features lead vocals by the "fourth" Wailer Junior Braithwaite and the song is called "Habits". Its a pretty good song but its not a real highlight for me. According to the liner notes, Coxsone thought he had the best voice in the group and this song proves him to be a pretty talented singer. Junior also sings lead on "It Hurts to be Alone" which is probobly the most beautiful song on the album with the Skatalites playing a doo-wop/R&B rhythm and a constant jazz guitar solo by Ernest Ranglin throughout the who song.
Other songs played in a more doo-wop/R&B style is the Wailers cover of "Teenager In Love", "Wheres the Girl for Me" and also "I Need You". Both of these songs are pretty good and I like their version of "Teenager In Love" better than the original.
Another thing that makes this album intersting is the song "One Love". This song was later redone again by Bob Marley during his international superstar years and became a big hit for him. This one is straight ska though and features duel lead vocals by Bob and Bunny.
The last of my favorite tracks is "Love and Affection" which has nice sweet lyrics with Bob on lead vocals and a good sax solo by Roland Alphonso. Other great tracks not to be missed though are "Go Jimmy Go which is a nice upbeat ska number, "Diamond Baby" and "Playboy".
This is a great album for any fan of Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Skatalites, or any ska fan in general. Heartbeat has done a great job with the packaging featuring a classing Wailers pose on the cover and great song by song liner notes written by Roger Steffans. This one is definitly recommended.
Back To Ska:
Ive Got to Go Back Home: