Bob Marley and the Wailers
One Love At Studio One 1964-1966
Heartbeat (11661-7819-2) (Two CDs)
As fans are well aware, the racks have increasingly groaned under the weight of Wailers compilations, the bulk drawn from recordings made between 1967-72, although Island has done its bit to bend the shelves with the group?s later numbers. Severely lacking were compilations dedicated to the band?s prolific early career.
Although Bob Marley himself cut a couple of solo singles for producer Leslie Kong in 1962, The Wailers? first years were spent exclusively working for producer Coxsone Dodd. Five songs were laid down during their initial session at Dodd?s Studio One, including their first Jamaican hit, ?Simmer Down.? Myriad more smash singles followed, before the band, already reduced from the original sextet to the more familiar trio, struck off for greener pastures in November 1966.
When the Heartbeat label launched a series of Studio One compilations in the early ?80s, The Wailers featured on none of them. Instead, their music was splashed across the One Love At Studio One 1964-1966 double album. In 1991, the label issued the set on CD, plumping it up with nine previously unreleased bonus tracks. Now that two-CD set has been remastered and reissued in its entirety, with a sole (previously released) bonus track (not 10, as the sleeve suggests).
The original mastering was pretty good to begin with, but now it has more punch, a slightly cleaner sound and boomier bass. So, fans must decide if that, plus ?Tell Them Lord,? makes the purchase worthwhile. The excellent Jody Pierson and Roger Steffens?penned booklet is still included, annotating every song on the set, all of which, bar the first, are sequenced chronologically.
The songs themselves are magnificent, together showcasing the breadth of the group?s influences, styles, themes and phenomenal talent, as well as those of the musicians who backed them. The Wailers re-recorded a clutch of these numbers over the years, ?One Love,? ?Sinner Man,? ?Bend Down Low,? ?I?m Still Waiting,? and ?Who Feels It Knows It? among them but never extinguished the beauty of the originals. If you don?t own the original set, buy this reissue immediately. If you do, well, the decision is yours. In any case, One Love belongs in every reggae fan?s collection.