Rare Bob Marley: Dig it, Mon!

Bob Marley and The Wailers - Destiny: Rare Ska Sides From Studio One
(Heartbeat Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

Story by Tony Bonyata

In the early sixties, long before he became the Third World's first superstar, late-Jamaican reggae artist Bob Marley along with his longtime backing band the Wailers, featuring Peter Mackintosh (later Peter Tosh) and Bunny Livingston (later Bunny Wailer) stepped into legendary Jamaican producer Clement Dodd's Studio One in Kingston and laid down dozens of hits that quickly established them as one of the hottest bands in Jamaica.
Although just teens, Marley, Mackintosh and Livingston helped characterize a music form known as ska, a blend of rhythm & blues and calypso accentuated with quirky off-beats along with saxophones and brass. The Wailers then added their own flavor of folk, gospel, soul, fifties doo wop harmonies and pop covers to the mix to create a sound uniquely their own.
Destiny: Rare Ska Sides From Studio One , the fifth Heartbeat Records volume chronicling the historic early recordings of The Wailers at Studio One between July 1963 and August 1966, offers not only a glimpse into the roots of reggae music but also sheds light on the Jamaican dance scene of the early sixties, a place where a young Bob Marley and the Wailers ruled the roost.
With a slew of alternate takes, demos and original single versions never released on LP or CD Destiny serves up ska scorchers like "Destiny", with bouncy horns, Marley's earnest vocals and bright female accompaniments, which features Rita Anderson who later married Marley, the infectious "Do You Feel The Same Way Too" and "Dance With Me", an uptempo ska number which melodically pays homage to the Drifter's "On Broadway". Marley and Bunny's gentle vocal duet on the tender lullaby "Where Is My Mother" features Marley playing the group's first acoustic guitar, a trait he would use many times throughout his career.
Capitalizing on the sixties dance craze of Jamaica known as "the jerk" the Wailers released their dancehall favorite "Jerking Time" which hints at reggae in it's earliest and rawest form. "I Stand Predominant" is a number written and sung by Bunny and was the Wailer's first hit single that preached their Rastafarian beliefs, inspired by a Jamaican visit in the sixties by the emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, also referred to as Ras Tafari.
The album gets a little more light hearted with a 1965 ska-ed up cover of "What's New Pussycat?", a number that Tom Jones had just scored big with earlier that year, and a sunny version of Irving Berlin's holiday perennial "White Christmas", which featured Marley crooning "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, NOT like the ones I used to know" (these guys were from Jamaica remember) over the Wailers doo-wopping harmonies and jaunting rhythm.
Although Bob Marley and the Wailers are better known for later reggae standards such as "Exodus", "I Shot The Sheriff", "No Woman No Cry" and "Jamming", it would prove a fruitful endeavor to roll one's sleeves up and dig deep into the roots of reggae on this important release of early Wailer rarities.

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