THE NEVER ENDING WAILERS
This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1993.
This is a fascinating release, as is the story behind
it. As most fans realize, The Wailers ruled the Jamaican
music scene from the early 60's. Although their line-up
occasionally changed, for all intents and purposes it
consisted of three core members - Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and
Superlatives cannot even begin to describe this
trend-setting trio. They were simply way ahead of their
time. After 10 fruitful years they disbanded in 1973, with
each member moving on to successful solo careers.
According to the liner notes by Wailers' authority
Roger Steffens, the three had apparently pondered for years
of reuniting for a song - and a possible album - based on
the title "Together Again." Marley's death in 1981 made that
But in 1984, Wailer and Tosh (along with one-time
members Junior Braithwaite and Constantine "Vision" Walker)
decided to proceed with the plan. Piecing together vocals
left from Marley years earlier (similar to what the Doors
did with Jim Morrison's voice on "An American Prayer") the
tapes were skillfully incorporated into new arrangements
through the wonders of technology.
The following year, as Steffen writes, "tapes of the
sessions began circulating, causing tremendous excitement
that was ultimately blunted by a flurry of legal obstacles.
Then came the tragic assassination of Peter Tosh in
September of 1987, and the project went on an indefinite
With the recent release of "The Never Ending Wailers,"
the long wait is finally over. From the start, when Marley
shifts the line of his classic song, "I'm Still Waiting" to
the haunting "I'm Still Wailing," this is a magical
The songs involving Marley are extraordinary. His
vocals sound amazingly fresh, as he sings on half of the 10
tracks; "I'm Still Wailing," "Hammer," "It Hurts To Be
Alone" (originally with lead vocals by Junior Braithwaite),
"How Many Times" (also known as "Do You Remember") and
"Music Lesson." The tunes are all modernized in new upbeat
versions and are presented in an every-other-one sequence
(tracks 1,3,5,7 and 9).
The other interspersed tunes include two killers with
Wailer on lead vocals, "Dutch Pot" and personal favorite,
"Rescue Me." The aforementioned "Together Again" (which
became a tribute to Marley and has all four singers trading
off vocals) and an extended update of "Nice Time" are also
featured. The disc ends with "Coolie Plum Tree," recently
recorded by Wailer, Braithwaite and Tosh's son, Andrew. It's
a clever, fitting tribute to the Wailers and their career.
The sound is exceptionally clean considering the
circumstances. Bunny Wailer has done an admirable job with
production, even mixing in some nice dub, while the team of
Sly and Robbie have put down some solid rhythms.
This remarkable recording is without doubt the year's
major reggae release. More than a novelty, it's an
impressive, magical disc which exceeds all expectations.
This supergroup left a substantial musical history, and "The
Never Ending Wailers" just adds to its legacy.
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