Bunny Wailer – Sings The Wailers
Bunny Wailer, born Neville O’Riley Livingston, is one of the founding members of the Wailers, and the trio’s only surviving member. Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley, and Peter Tosh teamed up with Coxsone Dodd, and their career took off immediately with their first single, the anti-violence anthem Simmer Down. Early on, all members contributed songs to the group, which enabled the Wailers to continue without Marley after he left Jamaica in 1966, to seek work for a time in the U.S.
Over time, however, Bunny’s songwriting contributions to the group had lessened, although when he did turn his hand to composing, the results were never less than scintillating. On their own Wail N Soul M label, they released several excellent singles such as Bunny Wailers’ Tread Along from 1969. By 1973, the Wailers were untouchable, the biggest reggae band in Jamaica, and on the verge of an international breakthrough. But tensions were rising within the Wailers, which led to the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.
He launched his own label, Solomonic, releasing quality tunes, such as Arabs Oil Weapon, and Pass It On. With the release of his stunning debut album Blackheart Man in 1976, he established himself as a force to be reckoned with. High quality singles, mostly pressed in limited quantities, were released through the Solomonic imprint. The albums Protest and Struggle proved quick follow-ups over the next two years.
In 1980 he gave us the album In I Father’s House. That same year he surprised the reggae community with Bunny Wailer Sings the Wailers, a tribute to his former group, lovingly revisiting his own favorites, accompanied by fine musicians like Sly & Robbie, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Keith Sterling, Winston Wright, Dean Fraser, Nambo Robinson, Headly Bennett, and Sticky.
By the time the album was released later in 1980, Bob Marley’s cancer had been diagnosed, the following spring he was gone. The album Tribute was drawn from the Sings The Wailers sessions and helped to keep the Wailers’ legacy alive. His 1981 showcase album Rock ‘N’ Groove, turned to the dancehalls for inspiration, was ignored by the critics but proved to be a success in Europe and the U.S.
In the mid 1980s the new dancehall style with its digital riddims took Jamaica and the dancehall by storm. Although he has always given a sympathetic ear to the latest innovations in production and riddims, he wasn’t anymore at the forefront of reggae music. He released several albums, new stuff as well as retrospective sets, and relies mainly on the loyalty of his fans worldwide. He has won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991, 1995 and 1997.
Music On Vinyl
The 1980 released Sings The Wailers found him delving into The Wailers’ impressive legacy. Chris Blackwell of Island Records had noticed the potential of Bunny Wailer and added him to his roster of Jamaican artists and quickly issued the album on both sides of the Atlantic. It became one of Bunny’s most popular albums. At the beginning of 2020 Music On Vinyl releases the album in their series ‘Selected Reggae Classics’.
The Dutch vinyl only (high quality 180g LP’s and 7# pressings) reissue label has already earned respect in the reggae scene with superb vinyl reissues of classic albums. Check out Bob Andy’s 1978 album Lots Of Love And I, The Uniques rocksteady album Absolutely The Uniques!, Gregory Isaacs Out Deh!, The Heptones 1976 set Night Food and Pablo Moses’ Pave The Way. Further interesting sets are Lee Perry’s Scratch The Upsetter Again and From The Roots by The Maytals.
Sings The Wailers
All tunes here are well known Wailers classics, performed with style and sincerity by Bunny Wailer. The backing by Sly & Robbie c.s. is sober but flawless. Check the Bunny Wailer & Peter Tosh written Burial, the song was written by Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer back in 1968. Some claimed that the song was about the fact that neither Peter Tosh nor Bunny Wailer was present at Bob’s funeral. There’s the famous Peter Tosh piece I’m The Toughest, complete with subtle dubby flavors, delivered by Bunny without hesitation!
Bunny’s self-penned Studio One song Dreamland, by some regarded as his signature song, was re-recorded several times by Bunny, one of the best versions was with U Roy back in 1971. Here he lays down a fragile, moving version. The awesome skanker Dancing Shoes goes also back to the Wailers’ Studio One period. Keep On Moving is a Curtis Mayfield/Impressions song here performed by Bunny with pride and authority. From their Wail N Soul M period comes Hypocrite with the well-known horns arrangement which made this song a winner. From that same time too comes the rocksteady-esque Mellow Mood, magnificent recut!