eMusic Review 0
When the Wailers teamed with original dub master Lee "Scratch" Perry, Jamaican music was at a turning point: rock steady had run its course, ska's first incarnation was fading out and mystical Rastafarianism was gaining prominence. The Wailers and Perry filled this moment of flux with these historic sides, which establish the sound that would become modern reggae.
Their focus and ambition could be summed up in the words they sang over Perry and the Upsetters '"Soul Rebel" riddim: "Run for cover, rebels taking over!" "Small Axe" encapsulated that world-conquering attitude, a sufferer's anthem and a challenge to the island's "Big T'ree" record labels. The strategy was to crush the competition by matching their braggadocio with bigger risks. It was a case of iron sharpening iron.
Perry stripped away ska's busy beats, and roughened up rock steady's sweet melodies, inventing the blueprint for the rhythmically tougher roots sound. He cooled down the Wailers 'wild, exuberant singing, and their individual styles cohered. Bunny Wailer's soaring utopianism suffuses "Dreamland," while Peter Tosh bares a terse ferocity on "Downpressor." But Perry's minimalist style most benefited Marley, who now projected a worldly self-assurance. On tracks like "African Herbsman" and "My Cup," he seems bound for stardom.… read more »