Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Rastaman Vibration

This is an album from 1976, one of my favorites, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Rastaman Vibration.

1) Positive Vibration - Such a great album, starting off with this peaceful music and positive song. The I Threes are there as beautiful background singers. And Bob Marley, "If you get down and you quarrel everyday, you're saying prayers to the devils, I say, oh oh." The alternative is to help one another on the way and make things much easier. Why live in a negative way? "Make way for the positive day." There's a bell or ting going in this song along with the good reggae music. "Jah love, protect us." Back to the main verse. "I and I vibration, positive."

2) Roots, Rock, Reggae - Opens with drums, then the organ and piano. "Play I some music, this a reggae music. Roots, rock, reggae!" Bob calls to Mr. Music, that he sure sounds good. "What to be got to be. Feel like dancin', come dance with me." It's a good celebration of music, with some interesting percussion, like little cloc-cloc's. "We're bubbling on the top 100, just like a mighty dread." There's a horn blowing mid-song, and a guitar that answers Bob. The music is so clean and precise.

3) Johnny Was - Background voices need the beginning make it sound like a serious song, which it is. "Woman hold her head and cry, 'cause her son had been shot down in the street and died, from a stray bullet." Johnny was her son. A passerby passes by and sees her cry. A question, "How can she work it out?" The wages of sin is death, gift of Jah is life. "Johnny was a good man, good, good, good, good, good, good man, she cried." He was shot just because of the system, so this is a matter of injustice. "Comforting her, I was passing by. She complained, then she cried." She still wants the child she bears.

4) Cry to Me - "Cry to me, now." This is a list song. "Walk back through the pain, shed those lonely teardrops." It's what you need to go through. The music is cool, almost like sound effects in the background as much as accompaniment, especially with earbuds. They're back there like, 'Don't let us get in your way,' yet everything is perfectly in sync. There's some nice interplay with the I Threes and Bob.

5) Want More - "Do you want more?" The music is with some slick drums and effects, and the unmistakable sound of the group. It all sounds so effortless. "In the valley of decision," a biblical phrase, I believe. "But Jah have them in the region in the valley of decision. Go down, backbiter." Hot instrumental break, with electric guitar. Then Bob returns with the singers. I'm not sure what the song is about. Must be about divine vengeance against enemies. That makes some sense with the religious imagery. That phrase was from the Bible, Joel 3:14: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision."

6) Crazy Baldhead - "Them crazy, them crazy, we gonna chase them crazy baldheads out of town." This song has something to do with outside forces coming in, profiteers, exploiters of some sort, enslavers, conquerors. But I don't know what the baldhead stuff's about. Don't Jamaicans lose their hair? It sounds almost like a Jamaican folk song. "Chase those crazy bump heads, out of the YOWN." I like that playing with the lyrics. More great sound effects, like a tiny WHEEEE and cloc-clocs and WHIRRR. "Here comes the con man."

7) Who the Cap Fit - They're all message songs, but this is a message song explicitly. "Man to man is so unjust." "Who the cap fit, let them wear it." The middle bit has some coo coo and cluck cluck. "Who Jah bless, no one curse." Lifting up the people to have wisdom and trust in divine guiding. Understand life and the ways of man: "Who the cap fit," those are the ones I'm talking about. Like if the shoe fits, wear it.

8) Night Shift - The bass opening is a nice instrumental opening. More Bible quotes, from Psalm 121. "The sun shall not smite I by day, nor the moon by night." A guy's working all night and it's all right, working on the forklift in the night shift." There's some killer background interplay on this one, the I Threes. "By the sweat of my brow, eat your bread." All night and all right! Going on in your life doing it.

9) War - This is from a speech by Haile Selassie. "Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war." And it builds from there, to class distinctions. And till the color of your skin is of no significance. And until basic human rights are guaranteed to all. There's war until that day. A song about the fact of rising up and conflict. Bob has great pronunciation of "sub-human bondage" and "utterly DEstroyed." There's some good bubbling music in there and building horn answers to some of the pronouncements. Positive ending: "Good over evil."

10) Rat Race - "Uhhh! You're too rude!" The song considers the whole "rat race," with some other races, dog, horse, human race. "Political violence fill your city, yeah." "Rasta don't work for no CIA." "When you think it's peace and safety, a sudden destruction." (1 Thessalonians 5:3 - "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.") It really is a disgrace to see the human race in a rat race. Rat races are for rats. The song is a good consideration of the same old grind, a bunch of problems that are there for everyone, all of us running about.

No comments: