Bob Marley And The Wailers’ ‘Catch A Fire’ Relights With 50th Anniversary Editions

Originally released in 1973, the album is universally regarded as the record which put reggae on the global stage.

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Bob Marley and The Wailers 'Catch A Fire' artwork courtesy of Universal Music Recordings

Catch A Fire, Bob Marley And The Wailers seminal first release on Island Records, universally regarded as the album which put reggae music on the global stage, is being re-issued, via Universal Music Recordings on November 3 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its original release in 1973.

Catch A Fire is the fifth studio album by Bob Marley and the Wailers and was the first to be released by Island Records UK. The album originally had a limited release and was credited to The Wailers. Housed in a memorable sleeve, in the shape of a Zippo lighter designed by graphic artists Rod Dyer and Bob Weiner, Catch A Fire’s future versions would feature the classic portrait of Marley smoking a “spliff”, taken by Esther Anderson.

From then on, the artist credit was Bob Marley and The Wailers. After touring and recording in the UK with Johnny Nash, Nash’s departure to the United States left the Wailers without enough money to return home. They approached Island founder and producer Chris Blackwell, who advanced them the money for an album and paid their fares back to Jamaica, where they recorded Catch a Fire. The album features nine songs, two of which were written by Peter Tosh and the rest by Bob Marley. After Marley’s return to London to present the tapes to Blackwell, the producer reworked the tracks with contributions by Muscle Shoals session musician Wayne Perkins, who played guitar on two overdubbed tracks.

Marking the beginning of the anniversary celebrations will be the unearthing of the “Slave Driver” performance from the Edmonton show in 1973, available on Marley’s official YouTube page. Fans can enjoy an ensemble of videos over the next few months to mark the release of the 50th anniversary editions in November.

Slave Driver (Live At The Sundown Theatre, Edmonton, UK / May 1973)

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Catch A Fire will be reissued on two special formats; a 3 x Vinyl LP + 12” set, a 3 CD set, as well as digitally across all platforms. LP1/CD1 features the full final studio recording, LP2/ CD2 is the 10-song live album, “Live From The Paris Theatre London”, while LP3/CD3, entitled Sessions, features alternative, extended and instrumental Jamaican versions of the original album tracks. The additional 12”, available with the vinyl offering, and also included on CD3, features 3 classic tracks, “Slave Driver,” “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Stop That Train,” recorded live at the Wailer’s legendary performance at the Sundown Theatre in the village of Edmonton, North London. These historic recordings have only previously been available as a bootleg. The reverse side of the 12” has an etched image of the iconic Zippo lighter illustration.

Both LP & CD packages will include a book comprised of classic images of Marley, from photo shoots with long time collaborators Adrian Boot, Arthur Gorson – who shot images of Bob over two weeks in Jamaica – Dennis Morris, & Neville Garrick. The packages will also include press clippings from the era while brand new sleeve notes have been written by renowned music journalist and author, Chris Salewicz. The formats will utilize both iconic sleeve designs, the original famous Zippo lighter illustration & the later version with Bob smoking a spliff. The D2C offering will be a LTD run pressed on colored vinyl.

The album has received enormous critical acclaim, including being listed on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, the second highest placement of the five Bob Marley albums on the list, after the best-selling posthumous compilation album, Legend. It is also rightly regarded as one of the greatest, most important and influential albums, across all genres, of all time.

Pre-order Catch A Fire.

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