Tag Archives: Bob Marley

Rocks In The Attic #744: Janis Joplin – ‘Pearl’ (1971)

RITA#744I’m not saying the rest of my pub quiz team are not up to scratch, but this week we were faced with a multiple choice question: Which of these three people didn’t die at the age of 27? Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, or Bob Marley.

I wrote down Bob Marley, of course; the other two being probably the most famous inductees of the original ’27 Club’, alongside Jim Morrison.

‘Janis Joplin isn’t dead,’ one of my team-mates said. ‘She was on tour here last year.’

Not only is it annoying to be questioned on something you know to be 100% correct, it’s also frustrating to have to explain yourself – particular to somebody from the generation that the question is relevant to.

‘No, she wasn’t’ I countered. ‘She definitely died at 27. The answer’s Bob Marley.’

‘Oh,’ my team-mate replied, unconvinced. ‘So Bob Marley was younger than 27?’

‘No, he will have been older,’ I said, losing the will to live myself.

As we found out when they read out the answer, Marley died at 36. I couldn’t go into the myth around him being killed by Danny Baker. There was no time.

RITA#744aPearl is Janis’ second and final studio album, released three months following her death from a heroin overdose. As well as featuring an instrumental – Buried Alive In The Blues – because she died before adding her vocals, the album also features the very last song she ever recorded.

Recorded just three days before her death, Mercedes Benz has become famous more recently for appearing in a, you guessed it, Mercedes-Benz commercial. The song is a sweet a capella by Joplin, espousing the merits of consumerism, and sounds just as haunting as Otis Redding’s final session which produced (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.

Incidentally, Otis didn’t even make 27. He died shortly after his 26th birthday.

Hit: Mercedes Benz

Hidden Gem: Move Over

Rocks In The Attic #736: Willie Nelson – ‘Always On My Mind’ (1982)

rita#736News has just come in that Willie Nelson has been hit by a car. He was playing on the road again.

Jokes aside, is there a musician more associated with marijuana than Willie Nelson? Bob Marley maybe, but I can’t think of anybody else. Sure, every musician has smoked it, but Willie and Bob made a personal religion out of it. Maybe they should have taxed marijuana – would Willie have partaken then?

This 1982 studio album finds the tax-dodging Nelson playing Trigger, his trusty (and battered) acoustic guitar, on a number of covers aimed to attract a different audience – including the title song (made world famous by Elvis in 1972), Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, and Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

rita#736aDespite my dislike of country and western, I can just about manage to sit through this.

Hit: Always On My Mind

Hidden Gem: Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

rita#736b

Rocks In The Attic #595: Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Kaya’ (1978)

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This record features my favourite Bob Marley track, Is This Love. It’s a typical Wailers song – effortless, catchy and upbeat – and doesn’t let itself be burdened by the verse-chorus-verse template of western pop music. It has a structure, but a loose structure and the emphasis comes more from the message of the song rather than the boundaries of its form.

The record also features a re-recording of Sun Is Shining. Originally released on 1971’s Soul Revolution and then on the African Herbsman compilation in 1973, the song was later lifted by Funkstar Deluxe for a reggae fusion remix in 1999 which hit #1 in the USA and #3 in the UK. I’m not a huge fan of club remixes, but this was one of those tracks that forever seems to keep Marley’s music in the public eye.

I might have to hunt down the Deluxe Edition of Kaya on CD as it features a second disc of a live performance recorded in Rotterdam on the day I was born. Maybe that’s why I like Is This Love so much. Could Bob have been playing it just as I popped out into the cosmos?

Hit: Is This Love

Hidden Gem: Misty Morning

Rocks In The Attic #345: Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Legend’ (1984)

RITA#345This record reminds me of Ireland – both the North and the South.

I first bought this album while visiting my friends Linsay and Ruth in Omagh, Northern Ireland. It was the perfect album to buy while on holiday – it’s such an evergreen, everybody loves it – young and old. The album became the soundtrack to that holiday (George Harrison’s Ít’s Johnny’s Birthday was the soundtrack to my earlier trip to Omagh, but I’ve already written about that).

I then – against better judgement – started a long-distance relationship with a girl in Wexford, down in the South. As you can expect, before the advent of social media, we spent a great deal of our relationship on the phone. I mentioned Bob Marley’s Is This Love to her during one crackly conversation, and in turn she asked her musician friend about the song one night. He responded by jumping into an impromptu version of the song, quite embarrassing for her given that fact that she was hard at work at the time (serving customers in a burger joint in the middle of Wexford). I wish I would have been there to witness this. I might dislike musicals when people break out into song, but I love it when people break out into song in real life – the star of their own musical. Moral of the story: never ask a drunken Irishman about Bob Marley, if you’re not prepared to witness a performance of said song, right there and then.

I’ve read Billy Connolly’s autobiography, and he recalled a time when he was round at Eric Clapton’s house one time. He noticed that Eric had a load of postcards stuck on the fridge with magnets – like most people do. Looking closer, he noticed that one of them was from Bob Marley. The message simply read ‘No – I shot the sheriff!’ – what a great thing to have stuck to your fridge.

Some people don’t like Bob Marley. I don’t understand these people. To me, saying you don’t like Bob Marley is like saying you don’t like oxygen.

Hit: Could You Be Loved

Hidden Gem: Is This Love

Rocks In The Attic #293: Otis Redding – ‘History Of Otis Redding’ (1968)

RITA#293It’s funny how some musicians become saints when they die young, and others are just glossed over. I don’t think I ever want to see another t-shirt with the faces of Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley and Jim Morrison draped in moonlight, but still there they are, in the type of shops that typically attract the fat, lazy and stupid.

Perhaps Otis died too young – he was only twenty six at the time of his death, a year younger than the mythical age that might have guaranteed him a place on those t-shirts.

Redding died in December 1967, and there’s a pretty horrible photo of him being pulled out of the frozen lake that his plane crashed into. There’s an equally horrible set of photos of him, from a couple of days prior to the crash, which show Redding standing next to his new plane outside the aircraft hangar, beaming with pride over his new acquisition. These have more impact than the crash photo, if only because they paint a picture of youth and exuberance that was very soon snuffed out.

History Of Otis Redding was the very first of countless Otis compilations, but the only one released in his lifetime, just a month before his death. I often wonder where he would have ended up had he not died – there are dozens of singers from that era of soul – Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, William Bell etc – that drifted into obscurity in one way or another. Who’s to say that Otis Redding wouldn’t have done the same thing? The question mark comes with his appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop festival, and his apparent crossover into the pop mainstream. Unfortunately it’s a question that will never be answered.

I’ll just have to keep looking out for a t-shirt of Otis Redding’s’ face draped in moonlight…

Hit: Try A Little Tenderness

Hidden Gem: I Can’t Turn You Loose