Bob Marley & The Wailers - Burnin' (Half-Speed Master)

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Released just six months after Catch A Fire, Burnin' is the equal of its predecessor in its musical focus and passion, yet it contains - arguably - an even better batch of songs. leaner, tighter, and simultaneously more hard-hitting and more hook-oriented than the songs on Catch A Fire, the set list here dazzles. Two tracks in particular, the inspirational civil rights anthem Get Up, Stand Up and the story-song I Shot the Sheriff, are among the best songs Bob Marley ever wrote. The uncompromising tone of the former reveals the band's militant streak and their allegiance to human freedom, while the latter, on a languid, mid-tempo groove, is an allegory that shows Marley's growing versatility as a first-rate songwriter (the song later became a number one hit for Eric Clapton). Burnin' features a number of tunes from the early Wailers' catalogue re-recorded for these sessions, including Put I On, Small Axe and Duppy Conqueror. This material holds up remarkably well, and fits into the context of the album without a hitch. Burnin' and Lootin', one of the band's spookier songs, is another highlight, and adds to the tense, revolutionary feel of the set. The musicianship here is superior - with contributions from Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer standing out - but this was to be the last album with the original line-up before Tosh and Wailer left for solo careers.

Released 20/11/20.