Perceived as the most cogent utterance on the fight for Rastafarian acceptance, ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ – written by the exalted Peter Tosh and Bob Marley out of the subjugated circumstances that befitted 1973 Kingston, Jamaica – sits as an unparalleled in its willingness to revolt, conspire and ultimately challenge the negativity fused to the movement. “It’s not all that glitters is gold; ‘alf the story has never been told, so now you see the light, stand up for your rights,” evokes such mass uprising in its liberating message, it’s no wonder the eminent Marley’s work has weathered the decades without ever relinquishing its fundamental message. 1984’s ‘Legend’ was his imposing anthology and still remains the world’s biggest selling reggae album of all time.
With the impending closure of 2014 mere weeks away, it’s rational his enduring supporting cast for the vast sea of jerking, hook laced observations take these back on the road. The Wailers have seized our shores again.
‘Is This Love’ began the unified love affair. with the seven piece troop jolting as one to waves of neurotic fans of all backgrounds culminating their voices in tandem. ‘No Woman, No Cry’ was a nonpareil captured inimitably as the quaking tones of backing vocalist Cegee Victory shuddered with the distortion bitten murmurs of Audley Chisholm’s iconic solo. The Wailers’ mouthpiece Dwayne Anglin arrested the stylings of Marley with such conviction, his hand-waving, audience savvy persona was bought into by each adoring audience affiliate.
‘Could You Be Loved’ continued grooving with Chisholm’s muddy guitar backed by the off-beat musings of rhythmic supervisor Keith Sterling. Aston “Family Man” Barrett Jr.’s unruffled organ patterns on ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ were offset against Benbow’s consistently potent beats. ‘Waiting in Vain’ remained smoothly sophisticated with Anglin’s meandering tone swaying within its loose chorus secured itself as the evening’s chief moment.
With a list of tracks including ‘Three Little Birds, ‘Jammin’ and ‘One Love’ still unmentioned here, it pays credence to the insightful reworkings of the aforementioned. Original bassist and founding member Aston “Family Man” Barrett’s free spirited melodies were as infectious as his resolute grin. Barrett simply pulled off a masterstroke with this carnival created inside Manchester’s The Ritz. “Won’t you help to sing these songs for freedom,” Anglin questioned in the intimate chorus of ‘Redemption Song’ as Chisholm poked at its convulsive start. An absolute moment was witnessed.
Unbelievably it has been thirty years since the release of ‘Legend’. A compilation as fixated on its ties against the regression of Rastafarianism and democracy as it is relaxation and meditation. But for the 1500 people cooped in the sprung confines of this Grade II Listed Building, the thirst for the celebrations to continue well past its curfew was patent. The Wailers were a force behind that release. And to this day, they continue to be.
Words by Clive K Hammond