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Classic Album Sundays Birmingham

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The Station Pub

44 Station Street

B73 6AT

United Kingdom

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Album of the Month: The Wailers ‘Burnin’

Things moved fast in the music business of 1973. Less than six months after the Wailers released their first international album, Catch A Fire on 4 May, the conflagration continued with the release of Burnin’ on 19 October. Still billed only as the Wailers, and still led by the three-man vocal front line of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the band was now moving through the gears with an increasing sense of mission.

The album’s opening track ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ became an enduring anthem of people power, adopted by civil rights activists the world over. Marley and Tosh are said to have co-written the song while touring Haiti, where they encountered extremes of poverty that were the equal of anything in Jamaica. Interestingly, the lyric specifically criticised religious teachers for creating a smokescreen with promises of a paradise to come, thereby distracting people from claiming their rights as human beings here on this world. “Preacherman don’t tell me heaven is under earth,” Marley sang with evident disdain. The song would be re-recorded on subsequent solo albums by both Tosh and Wailer and would remain a key number in Marley’s repertoire to the end of his career; indeed it would be the last song he ever performed on stage (in Pittsburgh in September 1980).

An album full of revolutionary fire and fervour, it was also the last, heroic distillation of a line-up that had taken the teenaged Wailer, Tosh and Marley on a journey from the streets of Trenchtown to the brink of global stardom. Henceforth it would be Marley who was very much the man in charge.

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The Station Pub

44 Station Street

B73 6AT

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