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Bob Marley & The Wailers – Catch a Fire (1973)

February 28, 2017

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Lovely Logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 520/1001]

I continue to be wrong about Bob Marley.

A couple years ago, I thankfully had a series of misconceptions set straight when I reviewed Natty Dread.

As part of an overwhelmingly positive review, I suggested Natty Dread was an album to press play & enjoy, it didn’t feel like an album to “type along with.”

So anticipating more of the same with Catch a Fire, this week I figured, Bob Marley as background music while prepping classes, what could go wrong?

Well, it appears, I still have much to learn.

With Catch a Fire, I was constantly typing along with the music.

More specifically, typing the letters “google.ca,” immediately followed by “Concrete Jungle lyrics,” and then repeated with each individual track name.

It turns out, while I like Marley’s music, at this stage of his career, I’m even more interested in hearing what he had to say.

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Lyrically, the mid-section of Catch a Fire drifts into love song territory.

Which is fine, or to borrow a Seinfeld-ism, not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Perhaps if the timing had been different, those would have been the standout tracks.220px-bobmarleycatchafire

However, because I listened in February 2017, it was the political injustice tracks that kept me scrolling through the lyric sheets.

Like Concrete Jungle‘s, “No chains around my feet but I’m not free.”

Or Slave Driver‘s, “It’s only a machine that makes money.”

Not to mention No More Trouble‘s, “If you hope good down from above, Help the weak if you are strong now.”

Frequent interruptions to look up these, and other such compelling lyrics, did absolutely nothing for my lesson preparation efficiency.

But all of which made Catch a Fire feel like one of those albums that I’m glad I heard when I heard it; it may not have been as resonant before now.

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Verbalize the Positive

A tip of the hat to Sir 1537 for getting me started on my path to Bob Marley appreciation with his 2015 review of Natty Dread.

Though we don’t always agree (I’m not convinced Morrissey-anaphylaxis is a diagnosable condition!), I’m always keen to hear what he says about different artists & how he says it. With lego, no less.

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From → 1970s

25 Comments
  1. What a Prince amongst men that 1537 fella is!

    Someone else called Marley’s work ‘quiet songs about bloody revolution’ and I always liked that description.

    Funnily enough though, although I could probably sing along to every word, I don’t own this one. The original, awesomely cool Zippo cover is an expensive item these days.

    • Haha, he is rather Regal!
      That is a fine Marley description – once again, I appreciate you being a catalyst to Marley appreciation a couple years ago!

  2. The zippo cover LP is right near the top of my ‘wish list’ albums.
    Where’s that lottery entry…

    • If I’m lucky enough to win the jackpot Bruce, I’d be honoured to invest in a zippo copy to send your way!

  3. Must have been a pretty chill weekend over at the Stephens residence with Mr Marley!

    • Every little thing was alright this weekend!

      • Lol….thats good! Especially with a young family….
        It’s good to have down time wether it’s chilling to tunes or watching Tv…
        I speak for expierence as we had 3 daughters under the age of 2 and we always made sure every evening we had alone time at least for a few hours or well always tried….hahaha

      • 3 under the age of 2? That’s impressive Deke!
        And if I remember correctly, those daughters have grown up to give some awesome musical birthday/father’s day gifts, I’ll borrow your 54-40 line, I blame their parents!

      • HAHAHA…Well played!

  4. It’s a challenge keeping good music in the background.

    • I think that’s as valid an excuse as I’ve heard – if a student said, “sorry Mr. Stephen, I was listening to good music, I couldn’t focus on my homework” – it would be tough to argue with that!

  5. This is a great album. I only started listening to his stuff when I met my wife – before that I wasn’t all that bothered (I was familiar with Legend, but that wasn’t really all that exciting or engaging… though I also dig that a lot too these days, as it’s a change in tone to the studio albums). Anyhoo, where was I? Oh aye, this is one of my favourite Marley albums. Easily.

    • I’m only familiar with 3 of his so far – but it’s safe to say he’s 3 for 3!

      • I was fairly impressed by the strength of the albums, so can imagine there are plenty more goods for you to discover!

  6. Such a great album that’s been inspiring me for close to 30 years. Glad you’re finally on board the Marley train. Any idea which one will be next? May I suggest Rastaman Vibration &/or Survival? Two very different but equally wonderful records.

    • His other one from the list is Exodus – but eventually those other two sound good too!

      • Exodus is a classic (which I recently wrote about in my Forty Year Friday series) but those other two are stronger albums in my opinion. If you’re ever looking for casual, non-1001 listening, those are the ones I would suggest.

  7. I think a lot of the “Legend” buyers and listeners don’t get to realize just how much he had to offer. It’s great,but really doesn’t represent the phases (and changes in style and content) he went through.

    • I completely agree with that. Overtime, people who only knew Legend understandably got tired of it, and thought they got tired of Bob Marley… Incidentally, Catch a Fire is one of the albums I share with them, when they’re willing to listen. Survival’s also a very safe bet!

      • That’s a couple votes for Survival, sounds like that’s where I’ll explore next!

      • I like the older CDs that include many Peter Tosh songs like 400 years, No Sympathy, and Stop that train. The mid-70s/early 80’s albums are always a safe bet. But Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution are very cool too if you’re feeling more “adventurous”. Personally, though, I cheat and tend to make my own mixes!!

    • And that’s how I’d feel about side 2 of Exodus – it’s great, but I can see how people forget how much more there was than just the sing-a-long anthems

  8. Catch A Fire is a real gem. Glad you got to hear it! And you’re right, there’s lots of relevant and incisive lyrics in there. Sad that they’re still true today.

    And two shouts for 1537 the Legoman!

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