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Trivia / Bob Marley

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  • Approval of God: Bob really liked Eric Clapton 's cover of "I Shot The Sheriff" , and it helped his music get taken seriously in the rock world. He also liked Stevie Wonder's homage to him, "Master Blaster".
  • Bleached Underpants: The Legend compilation was compiled with this in mind. It primarily consists of Bob's love songs, with only a handful of his political songs (most notably, "Get Up Stand Up", "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Redemption Song"). It has nothing at all from his two most political albums "Rastaman Vibration" and "Survival", and it includes the Catch A Fire version of "Stir It Up" which wasn't a single (rather than the actual single from that album, "Concrete Jungle") as well as "One Love (People Get Ready)" which wasn't a single in his lifetime. The compilation is heavy on his most popular album Exodus as well (including 5 of its tracks). The tracklisting was selected via a survey by the Island label, in order to present Bob to an international audience that was alienated by his political and Rastafari-oriented lyrics. It worked a bit too well; Bob is seen by many as a smiling Caribbean ganja-smoker and represented by its lead single "One Love", as opposed to the anti-establishment revolutionary he was. Despite this, the compilation remains very popular both for people getting into his music and casual listeners who just want one Bob release. A politically-themed sequel compilation, "Rebel Music", was released a couple of years after to offset the criticism, although it was never as popular.
    • There's a lot of evidence in books that Bob could be quite standoffish to people, jealous and violent, particularly around women, with his widow Rita Marley and ex-bandmate Beverley Kelso having numerous stories like this in books. Some male musicians, particularly those who worked with him in Sweden in 1971, also noted these tendencies, claiming he had a permanent 'screw' (frown), hated being stereotyped, and primarily putting them down to culture shock and unease when not around Rasta culture. To some extent though, this was Jamaican ghetto culture at the time, which was suspicious of everyone.
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  • Breakup Breakout: Bob started to gain a lot of success after Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left the group after 10 years, effectively making it a solo project since the others no longer contributed their songs or harmonies. In fact, many assume all Bob's music is him solo. This was inevitable though, Bob simply was willing to do what the record company wanted to get his music known internationally (even if he did not make great money), whereas the others weren't. His use of female backing vocalists the I-Threes helped add a commercial element to his music and increased the popularity of his live performances.
  • Cut Song:
    • Catch a Fire was delivered to Island Records including the songs "High Tide Or Low Tide" and "All Day All Night". Island head Chris Blackwell felt that "High Tide Or Low Tide" was too soft for the militant rock image he thought the group should focus on, and that "All Day All Night" was too similar to other tracks and made the album drag on a bit too long. Bob Marley (who wrote both songs) was ok with this, and the tracks did not receive the overdubbing and editing the rest of the album did. Eventually the tracks were released, but not reinstated till the album as intended until the original mix appeared on the Deluxe Edition many years later. Blackwell said that he loves the tracks and that cutting them was a mistake that made business sense at the time. "High Tide Or Low Tide" has been Vindicated by History from its appearance as a central theme in the Marley movie.
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    • Multiple news stories from before Burnin' was released indicate Bunny Wailer's "Reincarnated Souls" and "The Oppressed Song" were going to be included on the album. An early mix of "Reincarnated Souls" had also appeared as the b-side to "Concrete Jungle". They were cut because Bunny already had two songs "Hallelujah Time" and "Pass It On" on the album, and instead saved for his solo album "Blackheart Man". In addition, Bunny says that his dislike of Blackwell's favoritism towards Marley caused him to specifically pull "Reincarnated Souls". Similarly, Peter Tosh cut a version of his old track "No Sympathy" for the album but it was not included, instead being saved for "Legalize It". All the intended album mixes were later released as bonus tracks on the 2001 remaster of Burnin'.
    • He stated before the release of "Rastaman Vibration" that he was going to rerecord "Trenchtown Rock" for the album as he liked the way the "Live!" version had come out. Ultimately he was talked out of it and this version was never released.
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    • "Chant Down Babylon" was supposed to be the opening track on Uprising, but Bob wrote "Coming In From The Cold" at the last minute. "Chant Down Babylon" later appeared on Confrontation. Similarly, the 'band version' of "Redemption Song" was supposed to be on Uprising but replaced by the acoustic version as Chris Blackwell felt it had more crossover potential (which it did). The band version was later a B-Side.
  • Executive Meddling: A good example. Chris Blackwell suggested Bob included the acoustic version of "Redemption Song" on Uprising instead of the band version. This ended up making the song feel much more poignant, and to be seen as a fitting "goodbye" song. It also made it a stand out track on the album, leading to its release as a single, something which probably wouldn't have happened if the band version had been included.
    • Blackwell allegedly told the group to tone down the lyrics to 'Revolution' or they would not get released.
    • This led to the split of the original Wailers although indirectly. Bunny Wailer did not want to play 'freak clubs' to attract an audience the US, leading him to return to Jamaica. Peter Tosh stayed on the tour, though became agitated when Island refused to release his record 'Legalize It' and so he signed to CBS. The two of them did agree to sing on Natty Dread , though the I Threes, who had already appeared as guests late in the Burnin' Tour, were added to the LP instead to make it more marketable. Peter and Bunny frequently would argue with Bob about his pursuit of fame especially as they felt they were increasingly seen as background musicians. The Wailers did not officially split until 1975 after a reunion concert where it was evident they were all growing apart musically. Apparently, Peter and Bunny viewed Bob's solo version of "Get Up Stand Up" on Live! as an attempt to erase them from history, so promptly recorded their own solo versions. Peter did reunite with Bob one more time in 1978, though otherwise neither of them spoke to him again.
    • According to Bunny Wailer, The Wailers did not rate "Simmer Down" highly, but Clement Coxsone Dodd insisted on releasing it as their official debut. It would appear that "It Hurts To Be Alone" was the group's first choice, which is why there has been some dispute over this. The decision did however pay off, as "Simmer Down" was an instant hit in Jamaica.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: There are a fair few examples:
    • A large number of home recorded tapes dating from the late 60s through to 1980 were stolen from Marley's mother's house after his death, and bootlegged. Furthermore, some tapes were leaked courtesy of ex-musicians. Only a very small handful of home recordings have seen official release, such as the Acoustic Medley from 1971 as well as "Cry On" and "Down By The River" from 1980.
    • Marley released a very limited dubplate "Babylon Feel This One" in 1979, which Island have never released. Around this time he also produced dubplates of "Jump Nyabinghi" (then named "Dancing From Within") and "Mix Up Mix Up", although these songs did receive overdubs and appear on Confrontation after his death. All three of these dubplate mixes have leaked, although far from official quality. A good amount more Survival/Uprising outtakes have leaked too with many fans incredulous as to why they have not seen official release given most of them are complete songs.
    • Some of Island's releases have not appeared on CD, for example the original b-side mix of "Reincarnated Souls", three Natty Dread tracks "Lively Up Yourself", "No Woman No Cry" and "Bend Down Low" with male harmony vocals, the original single versions (with male harmonies) of "Blackman Redemption" and "Rastaman Live Up", and the 12" mixes of "I Know" and "Trenchtown".
    • During his Island career Bob rearranged older songs for live or rehearsal performance that never appeared on a studio album. These include "Walk The Proud Land (AKA Rude Boy or Rebel's Hop)", "Trenchtown Rock", "Simmer Down", "Soul Rebel", "Soul Shakedown Party" and "Hypocrites". Of these, only the first two have seen official release of such recordings (on 1991's Talkin Blues and 1975's Live! respectively), the rest having leaked. In addition, Bob performed some originals live that were never heard before or since, for example "So Long Rastafari Call You", "Keep The Faith" and "Conquering Lion Of Judah". Much to the frustration of fans, none of the live shows chosen for official release have included these tracks.
  • Missing Episode: Numerous examples:
    • "Terror", from 1962. Intended to be the B Side of "One Cup Of Coffee", but the tape was lost and has still not appeared after 50 years. It is often erroneously described as a follow-up single that Island never picked up.
    • "Sophisticated Psychedelication", from 1970. A Best Of The Wailers outtake that never came out. The group did not pick the final tracklisting for this LP as they left Leslie Kong due to disatisfaction with most of the results, so it is possible have they might have chosen to include it.
    • "Lick It Back", from 1970. A self-pressed single that Bob never sold, but only gave copies of to friends. Extracts from it are circulating. The same goes for an early version of "High Tide Or Low Tide" from 1968, except that there aren't any extracts from this.
    • The 1968 recording of "Rock It Baby", which supposedly lies in the vaults somewhere.
    • The 1968 recordings of "Soul Shakedown Party" and "Soul Almighty", whose lyrics and tunes are supposedly quite different.
    • The 1968 recording "You Think I Have No Feelings", the vocals from which were used for a remix in the mid 90s, but the original version has never been released.
    • The 1968 recording of "One Love", that is listed on the tape titled Morely. All the other tracks from that have been released. It is not to be confused with the track "One Love, True Love", which is a demo.
    • The 1968 recordings of "It Hurts To Be Alone", "I'm Still Waiting", and "Lonesome Feelings", without the overdubs made in the 1980s.
    • Early versions of "She's Gone", the song itself dating back to 1972 (likely intended for the unreleased JAD LP).
  • Money, Dear Boy: Bob's attempts at pop-reggae for the Western market, with Johnny Nash in 1968 and 1972 respectively, both of which made no money and were promptly disowned. Ironically, when a remixed selection of both called "Chances Are" was released soon after his death, it was a huge seller.
  • No-Hit Wonder: In the United States, that is. His only song to make the Billboard Hot 100 was "Roots, Rock, Reggae" from Rastaman Vibration, and it only climbed up to #51. Compare that to the UK where he had eight Top 10 hits.
  • Name's the Same: There were two songs called "I Need You", one from 1964 and one from 1966. The latter one was renamed "I Need You So" when released on CD.
  • The Not-Remix: The single version of "Is This Love" includes a guitar part after the first "I wanna love you" which is not included on the Kaya version. This version was included on the original pressing of "Legend" though not on the remaster.
    • The Confrontation LP has some post-production in order to give the LP a consistent production sound: for instance "Blackman Redemption", "Rastaman Live Up", "I Know" and "Trenchtown" had simplified arrangements with fewer vocals and more upfront percussion compared to their previously released single versions.
  • Out of Order: The Studio One singles from 1963 to 1965 were frequently not released in the order recorded, which is really noticeable due to the higher voices (check out, for example, "Your Love" used as the b-side to "Playboy" it was recorded at least a year previously). In addition, there are conflicting reports as to whether "Simmer Down" was the Wailers' first single or if it was just the first to have label copies (in Jamaica, white labels - then known as blanks - were a common way to gauge interest in particular songs at sound systems). Some say for example that all the Junior Braithwaite material (such as "It Hurts To Be Alone", "Straight And Narrow Way" and "Habits") was the earliest Wailers material as they considered him lead singer at the time and his leaving early led Bob to voice more tracks. Others say that the group came straight to Coxsone with "Simmer Down" and he released it in late 1963.
    • Another fact that is often overlooked is that the group's first dedicated album recorded for Beverley's, "The Best Of The Wailers", despite being recorded in early 1970 was not released till mid-1971, after their next LP 'Soul Rebels' and whilst the group was having success with various self-released singles including "Trenchtown Rock". The group was not happy that old unreleased material was coming out purporting to be their best, especially when their musical style had evolved over that time.
  • The Pete Best: Junior Braithwaite, who left the group after cutting a few songs in 1963-1964 (most famously, his self-penned "It Hurts To Be Alone"), and was considered its lead vocalist for a short time. He had a remarkably brief career in music but the group continued to regard him fondly. To a lesser extent female singer Beverley Kelso, who though considered an official member at the time, contributed mostly backing vocals, and whose role was taken up by Rita Marley after the Studio One period ended.
  • Remade for the Export: Bob re-recorded a fair amount of early Jamaican material for his Island albums. This was partly to make it easier for international listeners to get hold of tracks he was playing live, and partly so Bob could make money from them, as many of his Jamaican releases had been put out internationally without him receiving any royalties. Some of the rerecordings, such as "Concrete Jungle", "Who The Cap Fit", "One Love (People Get Ready)", and "Satisfy My Soul [Don't Rock My Boat]" are often regarded as even better than the originals.
    • A variation of this trope. The original Jamaican LP of Survival has "Wake Up And Live" at the start of its side, though neither side is marked as the A or B side. The US version followed this, though explicitly stated the "Wake Up And Live" side as the A-Side as that was the current single at the time. For the rest of the world (also the Jamaican cassette), however, "Wake Up And Live" is at the end of its parent side, marked B Side, with the "So Much Trouble In The World" side as the A-Side - as that was the single in most places. This version has been canon since the first CD issues.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • At one time he was considered for nomination as Jamaica's eighth National Hero. The idea was shot down very quickly. These days he would easily win this place. He is the reason the general public has heard of Jamaica, and tourism off his image has stimulated the economy, which previously relied mainly on sugar and moderate amounts of tourism.
    • Prior to Catch a Fire, Bob had toured with Johnny Nash for a few months, resulting in getting signed to CBS. The plan was to make it internationally as a solo artist in the soft-reggae vein of Nash (who had recorded some of Bob's songs). Several songs were recorded, but the lead single "Reggae On Broadway" flopped. Ultimately, Chris Blackwell visited Bob and suggested The Wailers sign to Island. Some of the songs used on Catch A Fire, such as "Stir It Up", "Rock It Babe" and "High Tide Or Low Tide" are likely to have appeared on the JAD LP had it seen release.
  • Working Title: It was common for a song to be titled one way on a single, then changed for the inclusion of the song on an album. "Baby Baby I've Got A Date" was "Rock It Babe", "Burnin' And Lootin'" was "Curfew", "Rastaman Chant" was "Chant I", "Rebel Music (3 O Clock Road Block)" was "Road Block". Bob used to continue to refer to these songs live under those names.