Bob Marley/Bob Marley & the Wailers: Peter Tosh (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer (vocals, guitar).
Additional personnel: Tommy McCook (tenor saxophone); Aston Barrett (bass guitar); Carlton "Carly" Barrett (drums).
Liner Note Author: David Katz.
This compilation offers a brief glimpse into the Wailers' early-to-middle years (they only became Bob Marley & the Wailers after signing to Island Records; Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh quit soon thereafter). It combines a few of the late-1960s sides the group recorded for Texas singer Johnny Nash (whose ska-inflected "Hold Me Tight" had been a big international hit in 1967) with material recorded for the band's own Wail'n Soul'm and Tuff Gong labels, and for the visionary producer Lee "Scratch" Perry.
Songs such as "Small Axe," "Kaya," and "Lively Up Yourself" are all familiar from their later incarnations, and to hear them in their unadorned earlier versions, particularly the primitive recordings of "Stir It Up" and "Soul Rebel," is to experience both their simple power and Bob Marley's faith in their ultimate mass acceptance. THE BEST OF BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS makes clear that the band's raw talent was present from the outset, while hinting at the time and sweat involved in bringing that talent to full fruition.