Why is Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Catch A Fire on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Whether it’s high tide or low ebb, this is classic reggae.
What does Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Catch A Fire mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
It took me some time to realize this, but it occurred to me that Catch A Fire’s album cover, featuring a closeup of Bob Marley smoking an enormous joint, would have been considered not just “countercultural” but a striking political statement back in 1973.
Bob Marley and his band are seen as such a cultural institution today (a little more on this below) — an almost interchangeable term with reggae for many — that it’s important to remember that Bob Marley & The Wailers are largely responsible for reggae music crossing over to the American mainstream in the first place.
It’s fascinating to think about all of this while listening to the deceptively simple precision and gorgeous sounds of “Stir It Up.”
Roots reggae is a musical form that can particularly and effectively be used to shed light on potentially depressing topics – urban poverty in the case of “Concrete Jungle,” for example – with musical sounds and texture that’s beautiful and uplifting. Jimmy Cliff is another artist who proves this dynamic out.
“Midnight Ravers” has great harmonies and outstanding lyrics. This take alone is pretty mind blowing, and shows the sophistication of this band’s song writing.
Bob Marley was a soul prophet – a cat fully in tune with higher consciousness, or enlightenment. The Wailer’s song Midnight Ravers is a warning about spiritual death – the obliteration of the soul. Gender confusion, feminism, and the destruction of the mind are the employed weapons. What is natural, beautiful, and innate should flourish unmolested. The complimentary balance of the sexes is a perfect example of the divine natural order.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Catch A Fire
My wife and I were lucky enough to visit New Zealand around 2007 or so, and explored a lot of the local music scene. Reggae and dub are super popular there, or at least were around that time. And, in fact, one band we discovered is called Katchafire, and they’re rather good.
My favorite Katchafire song is called “Get Away.”
New Zealand is an incredible country, as an aside. Highly recommended.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Catch A Fire
When I lived in England and spent some time backpacking through Europe in the late 1990s, I was impressed by how much of a presence Bob Marley & The Wailers had at that time. I heard their music often in various youth hostels and in shops that tended to cater to younger people, not to mention seeing the posters and other kinds of swag associated with Marley and the band.
And while part of it for some tied hazily to a broader “weed culture,” it seemed to me like it was about a lot more than his and The Wailers’ music alone for many: it represented something important culturally, politically, and generationally as well.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
Some stats & info about Bob Marley & The Wailers – Catch A Fire
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Reggae, Roots Reggae
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #140
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Catch A Fire released? 1973
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #844 out of 1,000