BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS -- Catch a Fire (Mobile Fidelity)

In 1973, Bob Marley and The Wailers released their third album (and major label debut), Catch a Fire. With songs like "Stir It Up" and "Concrete Jungle" (both of which featured uncredited solos by Muscle Shoals' guitarist, Wayne Perkins), this was one of the first albums to introduce reggae to the masses. Reggae artists like Black Uhuru, Majek Fashek and South Africa's Lucky Dube, all site Marley as a major influence. His songs have inspired countless other 'non-reggae' musicians as well, such as The Rolling Stones, Phish, Santana and Frank Zappa.

MFSL's audiophile editions of Catch a Fire made major improvements on the sound quality. The superb channel separation and dynamic range (on both the CD and vinyl pressings) allow the band's sparse arrangements to shine like never before. You can hear the individual guitar tracks on "Slave Driver" and "Baby We've Got a Date" with no trouble at all. Aston Barrett's bass was much deeper on the vinyl pressing - almost too deep. I thought the CD was much more enjoyable. The bass response on the CD was perfect. You can literally feel every note.

Both formats feature additional artwork not included in the original release. The vinyl pressing boasts a new gatefold cover, as well as liner notes from the original album. The CD booklet includes everything from the vinyl edition, plus an extra photo of Marley onstage. Mobile Fidelity did a great job on Catch a Fire. If Marley was still around to see and hear what has been done with this classic album, he would have been proud.

© 1996 Steve Marshall