The Public Records 10/12/18
Well, hurricane season has arrived; and while we are only suffering annoyances in local weather, we must not forget all of those to the south of us who are and will suffer physically and financially from the effects of nature. However, life continues and as some communities see setbacks, others see growth. There is parallel sadness and happiness, creation and destruction. This is the way of things – the yin and the yang of it if you will.
So to be a bit topical and since we are getting taste of Caribbean air, the album of the week for the week of October 7th, 2018 is Bob Marley and The Wailers’ Babylon By Bus (Tuff Gong/Island Records, 1978). This live album was recorded over the course of the Rastaman Vibration and Kaya tours (1975 and 76 and 1978 respectively) in London and Paris.
The 70 minutes of this double album hits listeners with many well known and popular tracks from their studio albums (but don’t worry, you’ll feel no pain). Another fun and interesting, especially if you are a record enthusiast, aspect of this album is its design. Most double albums are gatefolds which means that one can open them up and look at the art work spread out over the width of what would be two separate albums. However, The Wailers had an interesting approach to several of their album construction. Their first album, Catch A Fire, was made to look like a Zippo lighter replete with flame, and in order to access the record one had to open the jacket like it was a lighter.
Babylon By Bus had a similar unorthodox design. Rather than being the standard gatefold, the jacket was the usual size and looked like a bus with windows. This allowed the listener to select which sleeve they wanted to have visible. Unfortunately, the design had one major flaw and that was in rhe sturdiness of the divider between the bus’ front windows (alas our copy has also fallen prey to that flaw).
By the time these tours had happened, the original Wailers had been broken up for sometime with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer pursuing successful solo careers. However, Babylon By Bus features many big names of the reggae world including Earl Lindo, Carlton and Aston Barrett, Junior Marvin, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths. The album went Gold in The UK and Platinum in the Netherlands and is of course best listened to with a GINger.