Bob Marley & the Wailers

Grooving Kingston 12 (JAD / Hip-O)

Reissues

Bob Marley & the Wailers

Grooving Kingston 12 (JAD/Hip-O) Cut and recut, packaged and repackaged – sushi or Bob Marley? Grooving Kingston 12: The JAD Masters 1970-1972 is the latest 3-CD fricassee of reggae's Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and though no sanctified communion, it goes down like fine wine in places. Followers of last year's terrifically blunt Trojan anthology, Trenchtown Rock: The Anthology 1969-78, will also groove to Kingston 12, swathes of which form the foundation of the best Marley compendium, Island's 4-CD Songs of Freedom from 1992. Houston's Johnny Nash of "I Can See Clearly Now" fame is the "J" in JAD and had the extreme foresight to sign young Robert Nesta before Chris Blackwell caught the fire. A distillation of JAD's initial Marley vault-letting, three 3-CD volumes of The Complete Wailers 1967-1972, GK12 loosens a few vaultables of its own. Disc one is all Tuff Gong singles circa 1971, produced by Lee Perry, and it opens on "Concrete Jungle," "Screw Face," and "Lively Up Yourself" before dropping in rad collabs (Big Youth, U-Roy) and peaking on tough post-R&B Wailers material like "Lick Samba" and "Guava Jelly." The band's endearingly earnest early doo-wop slides into 20 minutes of "versions" (instrumental tracks), which splits the three hours here by at least a third if not half (disc two). The second disc opens with Marley & co. covering James Brown ("Black Progress," "My Cup"), followed by tall Peter Tosh's cover of Nina Simone's "Sinner Man," titled by the Wailers as "Downpressor." The dub of "My Cup" runneth over. The centerpiece of disc three is the priceless acoustic medley on Songs of Freedom, which here adds "Cry to Me." More early R&B, and simple rock steady numbers like "Rock to the Rock" and "Rocking Steady" give way to "I'm Hurting Inside," whose remix on Songs was one of its highlights. The last two vocal tracks, the reedy, Memphis mix of "Music Gonna Teach" and "I'm Still Waiting," are previously unreleased. Grooving Kingston 12 is mostly recanned material, but the selection and sequencing was canny.

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