Bob Marley and The Wailers: Catch A Fire

Glenn Astarita BY

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Bob Marley and the Wailers
Catch A Fire
Eagle Rock Entertainment

This black & white footage of the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers features present-day interviews with vocalist/drummer Bunny Wailer along with rare concert footage. The prime source of interest pertains to former Island Records chief Chris Blackwell, whose band-centric vision led to the expansion of The Wailers' musical aura toward inclusion of a rock audience. Via reminiscences we learn that one of Blackwell's initial tasks was to instill trust in the Wailers' projects by emphasizing the musicians' staunch independence. He effected a makeover of sorts, which resulted in the now classic 1973 LP Catch a Fire, which garnered worldwide appeal. Shots of studio overdubs and recorded philosophies regarding Marley's alluring persona come to fruition here. Also included are American session musicians John "Rabbit Bundrick's (keys) and Wayne Perkins' (guitar) reenactments of original motifs and phrasings. In other spots, the various parties discuss the recording techniques and R&B flavored treatment of the original records.

During his prime, Marley was frequently accompanied by an entourage who idolized him, a milieu, moreover, in which anecdotes about strong-armed tactics with DJs and publishers became part of the music biz process. However, Marley himself, it is suggested, had nothing to do with such dubious tactics.

This documentary serves The Wailers' legacy well, providing fascinating insights from disparate angles. Many aficionados might not realize how influential Blackwell and company were during the infancy of The Wailers' reggae-based format. Simply put, Blackwell oversaw the conversion of untapped potential and raw talent into a singular musical presence comprised of a hybrid, pop-rock-reggae sound. The rest is history...

Personnel: Bob Marley and The Wailers.

Production Notes: 60 minutes. Documentary NTSC 4:3 Screen Format

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