This coming October marks an important mark in the history of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Approximately 48 years will have passed this year since the group performed a live, closed-door performance at Capitol Records’ offices following what was a rough tour in support of its then latest album, Catch a Fire. The “concert” in question is a rare recording from the group. It took years of searching and research to even locate the footage, assemble and edit everything. Now this Friday, that painstaking time and effort will come to fruition when Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios (formerly Eagle Rock Entertainment) release the intimate performance. The recording proves an entertaining presentation thanks in part to its featured liner notes. Those liner notes set the stage (so to speak) for the recording and will be discussed shortly. Adding to the recording’s appeal is its production, especially considering the amount of time and work that went into restoring the footage. It will be examined a little later. The set list rounds out the recording’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the recording a presentation that reggae fans and those specifically of Bob Marley and the Wailers will appreciate.
Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios’ forthcoming release of Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Capitol Session ’73 is a presentation that will appeal widely among reggae fans. Its success comes in part through its featured liner notes. The liner notes are so important to the recording’s presentation because they establish the setting and story that led to the one-off performance. The notes come from author John Masouri’s book, Simmer Down: Marley-Tosh-Livingston. The excerpt featured in the recording’s booklet points out that leading up to the rare performance, Marley and company had not had the best experience. Masouri even cites then band member Joe Higgs as saying of the experience, “We weren’t happening, our outfits were inappropriate, and we were rebels.” In other words, the U.S. leg of the band’s “Catch a Fire Tour” (which was what led up to the Capitol Session according to Masouri) was not necessarily a positive experience. Audiences will be just as enthralled as they learn that the band’s connections at Island Records helped to get the band its performance. Perhaps most interesting of all that Masouri points out in the featured excerpt is that the Capitol Session performance was one of the very last times that the majority of The Wailers’ initial lineup performed together. As he states, Bunny Livingston had left the band around the time that the tour’s UK leg launched in April 1973. He later adds that following the Capitol Session performance, the rest of the initial lineup would perform together two more times before many members went their own way. Having this understanding, it makes the performance and recording that much more important of a moment in the history of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Higgs and Tosh each left the band after the band returned to Jamaica following those last two shows together. They would go on to their own successful careers as solo artists. So simply put, the information featured in this recording’s liner notes are just a brief excerpt from Masouri’s book, but they offer so much in the way of establishing the setting. When audiences read those notes first, they will go on to have even more appreciation for the performance.
While the history presented in the recording’s liner notes does a lot to make the recording engaging and entertaining, it is just a portion of what makes the recording successful. The recording’s production makes for its own appeal. Going back to the noted time and effort that went into finding and restoring the recording’s footage, that work paid off. Considering that almost half a century has passed since the footage was initially captured, it looks and sounds quite impressive. The picture and audio are each surprisingly clear. What’s more, the mix effects that are used between the four cameras give the performance a feeling that is just as enjoyable as any much bigger concert. The smooth, gentle transitions from camera to camera do so much to heighten the relaxed sense that the music establishes. Considering that the band was playing this concert in-studio instead of in front of a live audience, it meant extra attention also had to be paid to the recording’s audio mix. The attention paid even to this aspect is impressive, as audiences can hear the subtle echo of the band in the studio, but the echo never once overpowers the music. In fact, it actually adds a subtle positive aesthetic impact to the general effect. It shows along with the video production that the work that went into recording the performance and even restore it paid off in spades. That positive result and the story behind the performance join to make for even more engagement and entertainment. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to address in examining the recording. That item in question is the recording’s set list.
The set list featured in the band’s Capitol Session performance is interesting because of its clearly directed focus. The 12-song set pulls from the band’s then latest album, Catch a Fire behind which the band was touring, and its follow-up, Burn, both of which were released in 1973. The band had already released four other albums prior to the performance, so to have the focus mainly on those two albums is just very interesting. As a matter of fact, the band pulled over half of Catch a Fire’s nine tracks for the performance, and approximately half of Burnin’. So what audiences get in this set list is a very specific look at the band at that moment in its history. To that end, it is a positive in its own right. So in other words, not only do audiences get an actual history of the band at that point through the recording’s liner notes, but they also receive a musical history so to speak at the same time. Keeping that in mind along with the impressive production values in the recording, the whole leaves The Capitol Session ’73 a presentation that will appeal widely among reggae fans and those specifically of Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios’ forthcoming “live” Bob Marley and the Wailers recording, The Capitol Session ’73 is a positive new offering for any reggae fan and fan of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Its success is established early on through the liner notes featured with the recording. The notes, which are in fact an excerpt from a book about Marley and his fellow musicians, do well to establish the history of the moment. Audiences are recommended to read those notes before taking in the concert, as it will serve to increase the appreciation for the performance. The production values presented in the recording add to its appeal. That is because it shows how ell the footage has stood the test of time. What’s more, it shows that the time and effort that went into locating and restoring the footage paid off in its own right. The recording’s set list rounds out the most important of its elements. It is important because it encapsulates the band in a sense. It shows the band at a very particular point in its life through the performances of songs from two specific albums. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this recording. All things considered, they make the recording a piece that reggae fans and Bob Marley fans alike will appreciate.
Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Capitol Session ’73 is scheduled for release Friday through Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios. More information on The Capitol Sessions ’73 is available along with all of the latest Bob Marley news at:
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