Several “live” videos of Bob Marley and the Wailers have been released over the years, but nothing quite captures the intimacy and chemistry of the group’s playing together The Capitol Session ’73. Filmed in Hollywood’s famous Capitol Records Tower on October 24, 1973, the performance is comfortable for all musicians, engages the soul and rhythm of reggae and the Rastafarian movement, and is ready for the fame and awards that await.
producer Denny Cordell stood behind the filmed documentation and recording of 12 songs. Shot with four cameras and mixed into a colored tape “on the fly”, the long-lost footage was put together and restored, resulting in a remarkable and lively session. The groove is set from the start with “You Can’t Blame The Youth”, with Peter Tosh as lead vocals and ample support from Marley and the rest of the Wailers. Seeing Tosh how things begin adds to the democratic spirit that existed in the group at the time, though Marley takes the reins from there.
Much of the following material, including “Slave Driver”, “Burnin ‘and Lootin'”, “Rastaman Chant”, “Duppy Conqueror” and “Kinky Reggae” is from the group’s two 1973 albums. Catch a fire and Burn in ‘. Both were intended to serve as an introduction to Bob Marley and the wailers and reggae music in general to an unsuspecting international audience. At the time of recording, the line-up of the Wailers was particularly tight. They had Earl Lindo’s sharp keyboard skills combined with Tosh and Marley’s guitar, all powered by the Barrett brothers’ rhythm machine (Ashton on bass, Carlton on drums). Joe Higgs – a reggae pioneer in his own right, who mentored Marley at the beginning of his career and took over for Bunny Wailer on a tour of the group in 1973 – supported backing vocals and percussion.
On “Stir It Up” Marley “arouses” romantic overtures and lets the band swing like a hectic pendulum, while on “Get Up Stand Up” defies the oppression. Marley and Tosh wrote and sang the song, which was influenced by their upbringing in Jamaica, where they had to fight for respect and acceptance of their Rastafarian religion. The Capitol performance is perhaps the best representation of the unity and passion that drove the group forward at the time.
Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Capitol Session ’73 is available as a DVD + CD set, an independent CD, digital or as a double LP set on green marble or Rasta Swirl vinyl (red, yellow and green). Whichever flavor you choose, the sweet swing of reggae from these extraordinary musicians will make your home theater or lecture halls more colorful and cheerful.
~ Shawn Perry