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Music / Rastaman Vibration

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Baldheads, beware!

Rastaman Vibration is a 1976 music album, released by Bob Marley & The Wailers. It's best known for the band's only Top 10 hit in the U.S.A. during Marley's lifetime: "Roots, Rock, Reggae", which reached nr. 8 in the Billboard 200 charts. Apart from this hit song other audience favorites like "Positive Vibration", "Crazy Baldheads", "War" and "Rat Race" were also introduced by this album.


Side One

  1. "Positive Vibration" (3:34)
  2. "Roots, Rock, Reggae" (3:38)
  3. "Johnny Was" (3:48)
  4. "Cry To Me" (2:36)
  5. "Want More" (4:14)

Side Two

  1. "Crazy Baldhead" (3:12)
  2. "Who the Cap Fit" (4:43)
  3. "Night Shift" (3:10)
  4. "War" (3:36)
  5. "Rat Race" (2:50)


Tropes, Rock, Reggae

  • Alliterative Title: "Rat Race", "Roots Rock Reggae".
  • Badass Boast: "Crazy Baldheads"
    We won't take no bribe!
  • Bald of Evil: "Crazy Baldheads", though in Jamaican slang "baldheads" are not literally "bald", just (white) people with short hair.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Both "Want More" and "Who The Cap Fit" criticize hypocritical people who will backstab you as soon as you've your back turned.
  • Crapsack World: "Johnny Was", "Cry To Me", "Want More", "Who the Cap Fit", "War", "Rat Race" all show the misery of today's world.
  • Cut Song: This was quite a prolific period for Marley and as such there are quite a few:
    • "Jah Live", recorded during the sessions and released as a single, though it was not included on the LP. It was however added to the remastered versions.
    • "Smile Jamaica" which also ended up as a single and on the Deluxe Edition.
    • "Roots" which eventually ended up as b-side to "Waiting In Vain".
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    • "I Know", which was kept in the vaults until after Bob died, per his request (it was the first single after his death in 1981, as well as appearing on "Confrontation" in 1983.
    • "Natural Mystic" and "Rainbow Country", demoed with Lee 'Scratch' Perry in 1975. "Rainbow Country" had lyrics reused in "Roots Rock Reggae", and "Natural Mystic" was rerecorded for "Exodus".
    • A rerecording of "Trenchtown Rock" was attempted, though Bob decided not to include it as he had already included the same arrangement on "Live!" the previous year.
    • "The Heathen" and "One Love (People Get Ready)" which Bob held over for "Exodus", during the sessions of which he recut the vocals. This arrangement of "One Love" was performed in 1975, at a one-off Wailers reunion concert.
  • Dude Where Is My Respect:
    • "Crazy Baldheads"
    Hate is your reward for our love
    • "Who the Cap Fit"
    Some will come, pretend they love you now
    Then, behind you, they will try to eliminate you
  • Face on the Cover: A picture of Bob.
  • The Future Will Be Better: "Positive Vibration"
    Cause its a new day and it's a new time
    And it's a new feeling and it's a new sign
    Oh what a new day
    Pickin' up! Are you pickin' up now?
  • God Is Love Song:
    • "Positive Vibration"
    Jah love, Jah love, protect us!
    • "Want More"
    They stab you in the back
    And they claim that you're not looking
    But Jah will have them in a region
    In the Valley of Decision
  • Grief Song: "Johnny Was", about a woman grieving the death of her son "shot in the street by a stray bullet."
  • History Repeats: "Rat Race"
    Don't forget your history, know your destiny
  • Humans Are Bastards: See Crapsack World.
    • "Rat Race"
    Oh, it's a disgrace
    To see the human race
    In a rat race
  • Inherent in the System: "Johnny Was"
    Woman hold her head and cries
    Because her son was shot in the street and dies
    Just because of the system
  • Karmic Death: "Who the Cap Fit" implies that backstabbers will eventually get what is coming to them on Judgement Day.
  • Made a Slave: "Crazy Baldheads":
    I and I build the cabins
    I and I plant the corn
    Didn't my people before me
    Slave for this country?
  • One-Man Song: "Johnny Was".
  • One-Word Title: "War".
  • Pep-Talk Song:
    • "Positive Vibration".
    Make way for the positive day!
    • "War"
    And we know we shall win/ as we are confident/ in the victory/ of good over evil.
  • The Power of Rock: "Roots, Rock, Reggae".
  • Protest Song: "Johnny Was", Crazy Baldheads", "War", "Rat Race".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • During the fade-out of "Johnny Was", about a woman whose son was shot in the streets "just because of the system", Marley can be faintly heard saying: "Just like Jerry (Gerry?) Myers (Michaels?)", presumably someone he knew who was killed in the same fashion.
    • "Night Shift" was inspired by Bob's own life. Before he became famous as a musician he worked on the night shift with a fork lift, as the song tells us.
    • The lyrics of "War" are taken from a speech Haile Selassie gave in June 1963 before the United Nations.
  • Recycled Lyrics: "Crazy Baldhead" has some from the late 60s song "Freedom Time", "Roots Rock Reggae" has some from then-unreleased track "Rainbow Country", and "War" has some from a translated Haile Selassie speech.
  • Refrain from Assuming: "Positive Vibration" is not called "Rastaman Vibration".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Roots, Rap, Reggae" by Run–D.M.C. from their album King of Rock is a shout-out to "Roots, Rock, Reggae".
    • "Johnny Was" was covered by the Irish punk Stiff Little Fingers in the debut album. The song also inspired the title of the 2006 Irish/British gangster movie Johnny Was.
    • "Family Business" on The Fugees' album The Score has the line: "Now, who would think that your best friend would be your enemy?", which is a reference to the line "Your best friend could be your enemy" in "Who the Cap Fit".
  • Sucky School: "Crazy Baldheads".
    Build your penitentiary/ we build your schools.
    Brainwash education/ to make us the fools.
  • Take That!:
    • "Crazy Baldheads", directed at white people who surpress black people. In Jamaican slang a baldhead is not literally someone who is bald or clean-shaven, but anyone with short hair.
    • "Rat Race"
    Don't involve rasta in your say-say
    Rasta don't work for no C.I.A.
  • Time Marches On: "War" namedrops some African countries who weren't independent yet at the time Bob recorded the song, or otherwise under the thumb of a white minority rule. Nowadays all African countries are independent from colonialism.
    And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
    That hold our brothers in Angola
    In Mozambique, South Africa Sub-human bondage
    Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
    Well, everywhere is war
    Me say war.
  • Title Track:
    Rastaman vibration, yeah-hah, positive!
  • Violence Is the Only Option:
    • "War" implies that as long as human inequality, the class system, racism exist "there 'll be always war."
    • "Rat Race" is pretty cynical about politics too:
    When the cat's away, the mice will play
    Political violence fill ya city, ye-ah!
    Don't involve Rasta in your say say
    Rasta don't work for no C.I.A.
    When you think it's peace and safety
    A sudden destruction
    Collective security for surety, ye-ah!
    Don't forget your history
    Know your destiny
    In the abundance of water
    The fool is thirsty
  • War Is Hell: "War" says that as long as poverty, racism and discrimination exist war will always be there.


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