Dropped from a Sly Stone tour, The Wailers played closed-door shoot/concert at L.A.’s Capitol Tower. Decades later both the audio and film have been released of that one-hour show. It was worth the wait.
07 September 2021 | James Porteous | Clipper Media
AUGUST 18, 2021 | JOE MARCHESE | TheSecondDisc
1973 was a landmark year for Bob Marley. His band, The Wailers, released their sixth studio album in October to critical acclaim and commercial success. Burnin’ earned a Gold sales certification in the U.S. and eventually an induction into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
The album introduced “Get Up, Stand Up” as well as the future Eric Clapton hit “I Shot the Sheriff.” But Marley and The Wailers weren’t resting on their laurels around the time of the album’s release. On October 24 – five days after Burnin’ hit stores – producer Denny Cordell (Leon Russell, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers) recorded the band live at Hollywood’s Capitol Tower. Now, that long-lost concert is coming to CD, DVD, and vinyl from Tuff Gong and Universal’s Mercury Studios.
Bob Marley and The Wailers’ The Capitol Session ’73 arrives in multiple formats including CD, DVD/CD, 2LP pressed on green marble vinyl, and digitally. “Stir It Up” is streaming now on YouTube.
Cordell received Marley’s blessing to record a dozen songs at Capitol, and shot the concert with four cameras. The recently-discovered footage has been restored for this release, preserving Marley, co-founder Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs, Aston Barrett, Carlton Barrett, and Earl “Wya” Lindo at the peak of their powers.
While The Wailers had the clout of Island Records behind them, they had suffered a blow when Sly and the Family Stone dropped them from a touring slot. Their power was unmistakable, however, and The Capitol Session preserves their powerfully charged performances of a number of songs from Burnin’ (“Get Up Stand Up,” “Burnin’ and Lootin’,” “Put It On,” “Duppy Conqueror,” “Rasta Man Chant”) as well as its equally remarkable predecessor, 1973’s Catch a Fire (“Slave Driver,” “Midnight Ravers,” “Stop That Train,” “Kinky Reggae,” “No More Trouble”).
The Capitol Session ’73 looks to be another worthwhile addition to the Bob Marley canon. Not long after the session was recorded, Peter Tosh left the group; Marley relaunched the band as Bob Marley and The Wailers for 1974’s Natty Dread. It was their first LP without Tosh and Bunny Wailer (who also left in the wake of Burnin’). It’s due on September 3 from Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios. You’ll find pre-order links below.
Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Capitol Session ’73 (Tuff Gong/Mercury Studios)
- You Can’t Blame the Youth
- Slave Driver
- Burnin’ and Lootin’
- Rastaman Chant
- Duppy Conqueror
- Midnight Ravers
- Put it On
- Stop that Train
- Kinky Reggae
- Stir It Up
- No More Trouble
- Get Up Stand Up
- Duppy Conqueror (DVD-Only Bonus)
- Rastaman Chant (DVD-Only Bonus)
August 24, 2021 | psychedelicbabymag
In the fall of 1973, The Wailers were set up as the opening act for Sly and the Family Stone on a leg of the latter’s U.S. tour.
The pair of acts were meant to play together for 17 dates. What a gig, right? Two of the most seminal bands in the history of popular music, two of the most iconic frontmen ever. Yet the tour didn’t work out. After only five dates of playing in front of The Family Stone, The Wailers were dropped and not welcome at the other shows.
Why? Accounts differ. Some say Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Co. showed Sly and his group up, so were let go from the tour due to professional jealousy. But others who were around the gigs at the time aver that the real problem was that The Wailers simply tanked with the audiences and had to be dropped because they were a bummer at the concerts.
This second argument seems a little hard to digest. Sure, the two bands played in different styles and maybe The Wailers’ reggae seemed an ill fit to be played before Sly’s unique fusion of funk, soul, and rock. But Marley and his band had developed over the years and were no longer strictly reggae only. Their album ‘Burnin”, released In October that year and very close to the ill-fated tour dates, has elements of funk and rock and roll in it.
Why wouldn’t a Sly Stone fan want to hear Bob and the band play soulful anthems like ‘Stir it Up’ and ‘Get Up, Stand Up?’ Maybe Sly’s fans were just too hyped to hear The Family Stone’s own songs, like ‘If You Want Me to Stay’ from their most recent album ‘Fresh’, to care about The Wailers. Whatever the real reason was that this dream pairing didn’t work out, The Wailers lost a golden opportunity to make a breakthrough with American fans.
At loose ends yet undeterred, The Wailers went to Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood and performed a set of their music to a closed-door audience. This was on October 24, five days after the release of ‘Burnin”. Big name record producer Denny Cordell filmed the proceedings. Band gear was set up, four film cameras were put in place, and The Wailers launched into an hour-long set. Captured on film in the moment, the footage has yet to be properly and fully released until now. On September 3, Tuff Gong/Mercury Studios will unearth the set in a variety of vinyl/DVD/CD/digital editions.
The 12 selections the band played for Cordell and a few others were mostly pulled from ‘Burnin” and its predecessor, ‘Catch a Fire’. Although they weren’t in front of a proper audience, Marley and friends put on a spirited show. Maybe they felt they had something to prove as a live act, after getting booted from the Sly Stone tour. Marley is all over the place, often playing guitar and singing, but sometimes just dancing around, playing percussion instruments, etc.
Tosh can be seen coolly playing guitar parts and taking a few of the lead vocals. Joe Higgs, filling in for Bunny Wailer who was on his way out of the act, holds down the beat. The Barrett brothers Aston and Carlton ably handle bass and additional percussion duties, respectively, while Earl Lindo manages the organ.
The sound quality is superb and the band is tight as could be. When you see Marley jumping around while Tosh sings ‘You Can’t Blame the Youth’, when you hear Lindo’s fat organ notes, when you see and hear how easily and fluidly they transition from rocksteady grooves to more amped up playing, when you take in these intimate live versions of ‘Catch a Fire’ and ‘Burnin” keepers like ‘Stop That Train’, ‘Kinky Reggae’, and ‘Stir It Up’ … it’s just hard to understand how any members of Sly and The Family Stone’s audience could have found them wanting.
Visually, the footage is a pleasure to view, thanks to some cool experimental shots captured by Cordell and his crew. While Marley and the Wailers fans who’re vinyl enthusiasts will want to own this on wax, it’s highly recommended that such enthusiasts also get a hold of the DVD so they can watch the band run though this exceptional set of songs. The only quibble this fan of the band can think of to mention is that the show didn’t include ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ from the new album.
In 1989, British filmmaker, archivist and historian Martin Disney was asked by Polygram — who had recently purchased Island Records — to sift through extensive footage of Bob Marley and The Wailers in preparation for the Marley documentary Time Will Tell.
While combing through piles of footage in various formats, Disney was especially intrigued by a three-minute segment of 16mm black and white film, without sound or labeling, featuring an early ’70s performance by The Wailers.
No one seemed to know where or when this performance was taped or if additional footage existed, so Disney embarked on a fact-finding mission that spanned over two decades.
He learned that British producer Denny Cordell — who co-founded Shelter Records with Leon Russell in 1969 and owned a state-of-the-art mobile broadcast unit — was involved. Cordell passed away in 1995, so Disney tracked down his son Barney, who remembered The Wailers being around his father in Los Angeles. His son recalled a session his father filmed with The Wailers at the Capitol Records’ Tower, but Barney had never seen the footage.
Disney continued his search, traveling to New York and California, eventually retrieving seven and a half hours of film from the four-camera shoot Cordell had organized. Disney and editor Tim Dollimore spent several months collaborating over Zoom, painstakingly repairing, syncing and condensing seven hours of material shot from two cameras and a live mix from four cameras into a cohesive 60-minute presentation.
Their diligence has unearthed a momentous artifact: Bob Marley and The Wailers’ The Capitol Session ’73, which will be released on Sept. 3, via Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios, on CD/DVD, CD, 2 LP colored vinyl and digital audio formats; it will stream exclusively via the Amazon Prime hosted music documentary channel, The Coda Collection.
“For over two decades I have been tending, researching and gently waving the banner for prepping the seven hours of Capitol footage for the release it so richly deserves,” said Disney, who has worked on almost every film made about Marley as a researcher, producer, or consultant. “As we were editing, we felt like no time had passed, it sounds so fresh. In a way the film made itself, we just pushed it, to get that feeling right and show how raw, ad hoc, and relaxed it all was.”
The year 1973 marked a turning point in The Wailers’ trajectory: they released their first albums for Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, Catch A Fire (April 13) and Burnin’ (Oct. 19), which were essential in expanding the international fanbase for reggae after the landmark Jamaican film The Harder They Come and its soundtrack, released the previous year.
Two of The Wailers’ three founding members exited the group in 1973, Bunny Livingston (later Wailer) in April and Peter Tosh in December. The Wailers were booked for 17 dates opening for Sly and The Family Stone beginning in October 1973, but they only performed on four shows before they were fired because they didn’t connect with Sly’s audience.
Stranded in Las Vegas, The Wailers called Jamaican attorney Gus Brown who brought them to San Francisco, where they performed a pair of shows before reaching out to Cordell and traveling to Los Angeles. Shelter Records had released The Wailers’ first U.S. single, “Duppy Conqueror” (misspelled as “Doppy Conquer”), one of the songs they performed on Capitol Session ’73, highlighted by Bob’s mesmeric vocals and the band’s indelible reggae beat, as seen in this exclusive clip.
The Wailers closed-door shoot at L.A.’s Capitol Tower took place on Oct. 24, 1973. The lineup consisted of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh on lead vocals and guitars; The Wailers’ mentor Joe Higgs on percussion and backing vocals; Earl “Wya” Lindo on keyboards; and brothers Carlton Barrett and Aston “Family Man” Barrett on drum and bass, respectively. The Barrett brothers played with Bob until his death in 1981. Family Man, now 74, who stopped touring with The Wailers after suffering a series of strokes in 2017, is the only surviving member of this extraordinary ensemble.
The Wailers were still a vocal trio at the time (with Island’s release of Natty Dread in 1974, Marley received top billing and from thereon, The Wailers referred to his backing band) but Marley is undeniably the film’s focal point. He takes commanding lead on nine of the twelve songs selected from Catch A Fire and Burnin’, conveying a range of moods: playful on “Stir It Up”, anguished on “Burnin and Lootin” and meditative on “Rasta Man Chant,” with all three Wailers seated, playing conga drums, delivering inspired, soulful harmonies; Marley and Tosh share lead on “Get Up Stand Up,” the enduring protest anthem they co-wrote.
“This film is like a master class with Bob in charge. Bunny left The Wailers in England, Peter was already plotting to leave, so Chris Blackwell identified Bob as being the right front man, the driving force,” comments Disney, who is also film’s executive producer, alongside Barney Cordell. “Denny created a wonderful session, with a small, appreciative audience enjoying a private performance from six of Jamaica’s greatest musicians and the sound at Capitol is just fabulous.”
“One of the most fascinating things for me was gaining insight into these human beings who were at a pivotal point in their lives,” adds Dollimore. “Everyone in that configuration of the band went on to do amazing things musically, but there were also many tragedies. [Marley succumbed to cancer in 1981 at 36; Peter Tosh and Carlton Barrett were murdered five months apart in 1987.] It’s fascinating to see them when they weren’t ginormous, but they knew that they were on to something.”