The Wailers – The Best Of The Wailers

by Jul 3, 2024Artist, Reviews

The Wailers - The Best Of The Wailers

Release Info

Label
Jamwax
Format
LP
Street date
June 14, 2024
Contact
Website Record Label

Tracklist

Side A
1. Soul Shake Down Party
2. Stop The Train
3. Caution
4. Soul Captives
5. Go Tell It On The Mountain

Side B
1. Can’t You See
2. Soon Come
3. Cheer Up
4. Back Out
5. Do It Twice

French independant record label Jamwax, dedicated to reissue mostly Jamaican music, surprises with the vinyl LP reissue of The Wailers’ The Best Of The Wailers. Produced by Leslie Kong, the LP was originally released in Jamaica on Beverley’s Records in August 1971.

Early Beginnings

In the early to mid-1960s, The Wailers, consisting of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Beverly Kelso, Junior Braithwaite, and Cherry Smith, recorded their first tunes for Studio One producer Coxsone Dodd. This six-piece vocal group was one of the largest on the island at the time and had a string of hits in Jamaica throughout most of 1965. At times, the group would perform as a trio with Bob, Peter, and Bunny. By 1966, Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, and Cherry Smith had left the group and were replaced by Constantine Walker (aka Dream aka Vision) and Rita Marley. During the ska era, The Wailers were on par with other vocal groups like The Paragons, The Clarendonians, The Maytals, and Justin Hinds & The Dominoes, but were not as consistent in their lyrics and vocals. Although their early contributions to music should not be overlooked, they were not considered as exceptional as some of their counterparts.

Leslie Kong

When rocksteady music was on the rise, The Wailers had the opportunity to capitalize on it. However, their relationship with Coxsone and Studio One was ending, and Bob was heading to the US to work in Delaware. In 1967, when they began working with producer Clancy Eccles, Bob had returned to Jamaica and reunited with Peter, Bunny, and Rita to work on songs like Bend Down Low, Nice Time, and Hypocrites. These songs marked the first time The Wailers’ distinct sound was heard. Following their recordings with Clancy Eccles, the group began collaborating with producer Leslie Kong, known for his successful work with artists such as Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, and The Maytals. The Wailers believed that teaming up with Kong, who had gained a reputation as a hitmaker, would elevate them to worldwide recognition.

Credits

The recording sessions for the LP were held from 29th April until 19th May 1970 at Dynamic Sounds Studios in Kingston. The riddims were played by Kong’s studio band, the Beverley’s All Stars consisting of Mickey “Boo” Richards (drums), Jackie Jackson (bass), Hux Brown and Alva “Reggie” Lewis (guitar), Gladstone Anderson (piano) and Winston Wright (organ). Additionally Peter Tosh played guitar on three tracks: Stop The Train, Can’t You See, and Soon Come. Carlton Lee was the sound engineer in charge, doing the recordings on 4-track tape.

The Best Of…

in 1970, Trojan Records released the first single from the Kong sessions, Soul Shakedown Party, before the LP was released in 1971. The album was given the puzzling title The Best Of The Wailers, despite not featuring a collection of singles by the group or offering a look back at their career achievements. It simply was a collection of 10 brand new recordings, no more no less. The riddims laid by the Beverley’s All Stars are solid as a rock. They all have a subdued and smooth vibe, blending Gladstone’s beautiful piano, Winston Wright’s lively organ, and Hux Brown’s country-inspired guitar to full effect. Their backdrops enhance the Wailers’ music with a vibrant and glowing touch. In contrast to their later work released on Island Records, the sound on this LP isn’t embellished. After more than 50 years since its initial release, it can be stated that most of the songs featured on this LP have now achieved classic status. The simple yet powerful songs are made special by the heartfelt harmonies of Bob, Peter, and Bunny. The energetic and harmony-filled track Soul Shakedown Party sets the tone for a lively atmosphere which still makes it a favourite at the dance. Following this track are two great classics, Peter Tosh’s captivating Stop The Train, one of his three compositions here, and the powerful, Bob Marley performed Caution. Other memorable tunes featured on the LP include the head-nodding smooth sounding Soul Captives, Soon Come and the compelling Back Out.

Over the years, this album has been released by different record labels with different titles and sleeves. But this Jamwax LP reissue remains the most faithful to the original album.

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