“Burnin’” by The Wailers - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1973Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

“Burnin’” arrived in October ’73, just six months on from “Catch A Fire” – by this stage these guys seemed like they were on a mission to convert the world to Reggae. It helped a lot that they had become an identifiable bona-fide group – a rarity in Jamaica. The Wailers could safely be described as a sextet at this time: Bob Marley (vocals, rhythm guitar); Peter Tosh (vocals, lead guitar); Bunny Wailer (vocals, percussion); Aston Barrett (bass); Carlton Barrett (drums) and Earl Lindo (keyboards). As with the preceding LP, they clearly felt they had unfinished business with earlier songs. Usually, I’d take that as a sign that desperados were at work, but it must be said that on this set they created definitive versions of “Duppy Conqueror” and “Put It On” (both of which had appeared on “Soul Revolution Part II”, 1971) and “Small Axe” (which was first out as a 7” in 1970).

The album opens mightily with “Get Up, Stand Up”, which digs heavily into War’s 1971 tune “Slipping Into Darkness” for inspiration. It’s sheer dynamite musically, if a little confused lyrically. Of the many messages in this song “we’re sick and tired of your ism/schism game” is probably my favourite bit of Christian bashing this side of Lennon’s “God”, although I doubt I’ll be converting to Rastafarianism anytime soon – apparently, almighty God is a living man. Altogether now: “you can fool some people sometime”… ahem, yes… moving quickly along… it’s brilliant how Bob and Peter take turns with verses on this one – a real show of unity and brotherhood on the surface, even if it belies the reality of inter-group writers credit tensions that exist between the pair. On the militant aspect, my right fist is clenched, with my arm raised high.

Next, Bunny Wailer steps forward for a rare lead vocal on “Hallelujah Time” – the album’s weakest moment due to the namby-pamby lyrics and vocals. His high-pitched voice is better suited to back-up, ably demonstrated immediately on “I Shot The Sheriff”, Bob’s universally appealing justice fantasy. Civil unrest is to the fore again on “Burnin’ And Lootin’”, almost an answer record to Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers To Cross” as Bob moans: “How many rivers do we have to cross, Before we can talk to the boss? Eh! All that we got, it seems we have lost; We must have really paid the cost. (That's why we gonna be) Burnin' and a-lootin' tonight” Ghetto struggles and spirituality are the recurring themes on this album – Peter Tosh provides a late album highlight with “One Foundation”, a call for unity amongst peoples. “Rastaman Chant” serves as a great finale; a glimpse for westerners into traditional nyabinghi drumming and chanting. Aston Barrett’s bass may not be pure to the form but it’s killer and, with the excellent harmonies of Bob, Peter and Bunny, it leaves a real warm glow by the end.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:16] 10.0.png The Wailers - Get Up, Stand Up (Bob Marley, Winston McIntosh) Reggae
A2 [03:28] 6.3.png The Wailers - Hallelujah Time (Neville Livingston) Reggae
A3 [04:41] 7.6.png The Wailers - I Shot The Sheriff (Bob Marley) Reggae
A4 [04:15] 7.7.png The Wailers - Burnin’ And Lootin’ (Bob Marley) Reggae
A5 [03:59] 7.5.png The Wailers - Put It On [album version '73] (Bob Marley) Reggae
B1 [04:01] 8.8.png The Wailers - Small Axe [1973 version] (Bob Marley) Reggae
B2 [03:33] 7.8.png The Wailers - Pass It On (Neville Livingston) Reggae
B3 [03:44] 7.6.png The Wailers - Duppy Conqueror [album version '73] (Bob Marley) Reggae
B4 [03:42] 8.4.png The Wailers - One Foundation (Winston McIntosh) Reggae
B5 [03:47] 7.9.png The Wailers - Rastaman Chant (Traditional) Africana

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