Listen: Pound Get A Blow / Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers PoundGetABlow.mp3
Listen: Funeral / Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers Burial.mp3
The Wailers got their start with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One in the early 60′s, singing doo wop and RnB covers, along with songs written in the new ska style. They had a good bit of success but it was a problematic relationship. In the 60′s, blacks around the world began to embrace their African heritage, and for The Wailers this led to the beginnings of their Rastafarian beliefs. Dodd was not a Rasta and, like Duke Reid over at the other big label, Treasure Isle, he didn’t allow Rasta themes in his records. Also, the financial benefits of their hits never fully came their way, as is so often the case in the Jamaican music industry. Despite a successful ska career, and having a handful of hits, by the mid 60′s, Bob Marley was essentially homeless and sleeping in a back room at Studio One. It was then that he decided to go to America, to live with his mother for a while and make some money, before returning to Jamaica to fund the next phase of the band.
After a stint in Delaware, working the night shift in an automobile factory, Bob had saved some money. But it was the American military’s decision to begin drafting young men to go to Viet Nam that made him decide it was time to return to Jamaica.
On his return he reunited with The Wailers, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, to form their own record label and they called it Wail N Soul M. Its logo illustrated their three arms interlocking in unity. They set up a little record shop across the street from a cemetary, and used to go to the funerals there. Just to go to them… don’t ask me why. Maybe that’s where the inspiration for the B side of this early single came from.
The A side, ‘Pound Get A Blow’, was the story of global currency troubles and the way they ripple thru a society. Bob and Peter trade lead vocals on this, and at one point, Bob really croons. Peter sings lead on the B side, ‘Funeral’, with Bob’s new wife Rita singing backup. The band included JA session masters such as Dizzy Moore and Tommy McCook on horns, Hugh Malcolm on drums and Jackie Jackson on bass. Both tracks were recorded at in late ’67 at West Indies Studios, and self produced by The Wailers. To my ears they more than stand the test of time.
Two labels are shown here and they help illustrate the path a Jamaican single normally took. The first pressing would be a white label, with info either rubber stamped on it or hand written. These small quantity pressings were sold to the many DJ’s for sound system use. Then, if the record was popular enough at the dances to be worth a retail release, they would invest in printing real labels for the formal pressing.