marley radio Rock To The Rock
Rock to the Rock Album Cover

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CD [1] 2 3 from Boxset I
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On January 7, 1967, Ethiopian New Year's Day, Bob Marley attended a grounation, or Rastafarian religious ceremony, at the home of Rasta elder Mortimo Planno in the ghettos of western Kingston. Present that night was American soul sensation Johnny Nash, who was riding the top of the American charts with great regularity, and often found a welcome break from the rigors of the high-pressure music scene in America by escaping to a house overlooking the post of Kingston he owned on Russel Heights. As Nash took his seat around the blazing fire, and passed the chalice on the right hand side, Planno came up to him with a scrawny young man. "This is Bob Marley" he said, "He is the best songwriter I know." His interest piqued, Nash asked the shy youth if he could play something. Twenty-odd songs later, Nash knew that he was in the presence of genius. Returning to his home in a flurry of excitement, Nash told his business partner Danny Sims that he had just met the most incredible writer he had ever encountered. "He sang me a couple of dozen of his own songs, and every one of them was a hit!"

Rock Steady Album CoverWithin a few days, formal business arrangements were set up between Bob, his wife Rita, and their partner Peter Tosh, and Johnny Nash, Arthur Jenkins their producer, and Danny Sims. Nashs', Jenkins' and Sims' combined first initials provided the name for their label, JAD Records. The Wailers were also signed on as performers, and Nash agreed to release the groups material abroad on his own label, while the Wailers maintained the rights to their music in the Caribbean. It was Bob's most fervent desire at this point to be, in the words of his stateside producer of the time, Joe Venneri, "a soul singer like Otis Redding." To that end, Sims invited many of the most astute studio heads in New York's booming scene to come to Jamaica and discover the new rock steady music. One engineer from Harry Belefonte's studio arrived, curious musicians from the Atlantic label, even the South African horn great Hugh Masekela - all fascinated by the never-ending creations flowing from the fecund pens of the Wailers in the rich, supportive atmosphere of Beeston Street. Writers came too. The Wailers were introduced to Jimmy Norman, a high energy Tin Pan Alley composer and collaborator of the Coasters who, with his partner Norman Pyfrom,, crafted commercial cuts for the important American R&B market, whose charts the impatient Bob yearned to dominate.

45 CoverTheir aim was to create products that could garner international air play, so after the initial recording of the backing tracks and vocals, the tapes were taken to New York City, to Harry Belefonte's studio, where arranger-producers like Arthur Jenkins and Joe Venneri often added soul style strings, horns, and other instruments with some of the best studio musicians of the time, many of them from Aretha Franklin's band. The original recordings you hear on this album are the original early mixes with horns. "Don't forget, Bob's greatest desire at this time was to be a soul singer, and he went along with whatever we did on the top of his vocals". "But," recalls Sims, "we still couldn't get radio stations in America to play our stuff. It just didn't sound like anything else that was out there, and they didn't know what to make of it." Many of the songs recorded during that period never say the light of day until many years later. That were popified readings of some of the Wailers' rootsiest local hits like "Mellow Mood" and "Put It On", fancy dressed outings on "Touch Me" and "Nice Time", all played by some of the swingingest names of the day. Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Richard Tee, and Eric Gale were all heavy hitters bringing the island boys into the big time. The training and support Bob got from Jad coupled with his guaranteed $100 USD a week in wages, encouraged and supported him to become the professional he was when he signed with Island Records in October of 1972 and the final finest phase of his career commenced.

By Leroy Jodie Pierson & Roger Steffens

Explore Selassie is the Chapel and the Best of the Wailers portions of this boxset.

Learn more about Bob, Bunny, Peter, Rita
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