Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley & the Wailers

What's Going On Deluxe Edition, and Catch a Fire Deluxe Edition (Motown)

Record Reviews

Marvin Gaye

What's Going On Deluxe Edition (Motown)

Bob Marley & the Wailers

Catch a Fire Deluxe Edition (Island)

Including 2-CD reconfigurations of both Blind Faith's ballyhooed debut and ultimate Bic flicker Frampton Comes Alive, the Universal label's Deluxe Edition series functions at dual purposes: regenerating catalog revue and recasting seminal LPs in expansive new ways. Both come together like R&B on time-honored perfections by Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley & the Wailers. What's Going On, 1971's soul-baring suite of Vietnam-torn young America from Motown's crown prince Marvin Gaye, divides its first disc into two versions of the classic album: the initial Detroit mix, and the artist's own L.A. mix a month later. Gaye subsumes the LP's percussive elements deeper into its lush groove, relegating the alternate mix to ear-pricking curiosity. It's the second CD of What's Going On that's revelatory: Gaye's return to the stage four years after his doomed soulmate Tammi Terrell collapsed in his arms during a performance. The live arena wasn't Gaye's forte, but after a shaky "Sixties Medley," the material from What's Going On comes alive with the swooning street spirituality it embodies. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer worshipped Gaye and his soul brothers, and the former Wailing Wailers' Jamaican rendition of R&B endures like the music of their idols. The trio's Island Records debut, 1973's Catch a Fire, combined a bobbing, Caribbean syncopation with sociopolitical soul lamentations. The "Deluxe Edition" of Catch a Fire splits its two discs between that which Island's Chris Blackwell overdubbed to good effect, and what the Wailers themselves turned in. The Jamaican mix misses the psychedelic guitar licks of Wayne Perkins on "Stir It Up" and "Baby We've Got a Date (Rock It Baby)," but adds jewels "High Tide or Low Tide" (from the Songs of Freedom box set) and "All Day All Night," while reshuffling the track order. Subtle are the differences, to be sure, but they'll be of great interest to Marley heads who recognize Catch a Fire as the Wailers' eternal flame. Both "High Tide" and "All Day" can be found as bonus tracks on the new, single disc issue of Catch a Fire, Universal reissuing the entire catalog with additional selections, though only Burnin' benefits noticeably in the transaction. Look also for the previously unreleased band version of "Redemption Song" on One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley & the Wailers, which morphs previous spliff hits Legend and Natural Mystic.

(Both) ****

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