Since its beginnings in Jamaica in 1959, the story of the pioneering Island Records label has been inextricably linked to the story of its founder, Chris Blackwell. Now, Blackwell has curated a series of compilation LPs, featuring his hand-picked tracks that correspond with his and Island’s legendary history.
On February 26, Island Records/UMe released Volume One of The Vinyl Series, a 14-track album covering the years 1962 to 1969. Volumes Two and Three will follow later this year and explore Island’s history in the decades that followed.
“When I moved Island Records’ base from Kingston to London in 1962, all I wanted to do at first was just release the really great music that was coming out of Jamaica,” writes Blackwell in the collection’s liner notes. “But then I got caught up in all the music that I was hearing in London, much of it from America.”
The first volume of The Vinyl Series includes such groundbreaking hits as Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” and “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker and the Aces—songs which introduced much of the world to the sound of Jamaican music. Several early singles set the context for these singles by Toots and the Maytals and “Forward March” by a teenage Derrick Morgan, the “first star of ska.”
The set also points to the expansive musical directions that Island would soon pursue, especially after the 1966 smash “Gimme Some Lovin’ “ by the Spencer Davis Group, whose lead singer, Steve Winwood, would later further influence the label’s direction.
Also included are some of the immortal R&B singles that Island released in the UK through its Sue Records subsidiary, like “Mockingbird” by Charlie and Inez Foxx and “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob and Earl.
In track-by-track essays by noted author and longtime Island Records chronicler Chis Salewicz, the album package features reminiscences that offer Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Blackwell’s own perspective.
The future volumes of The Vinyl Series will illustrate the visionary role that Island played in the folk, hard rock, singer-songwriter, glam, and progressive movements—and, of course, the records by Bob Marley and the Wailers and Jimmy Cliff, among others, that defined reggae around the world.
“Clearly, the culture was moving in a new direction,” writes Chris Blackwell in the introduction to this revelatory collection, “and I wanted Island Records to mirror that shift and be in this new world.”
The Vinyl Series
1 Long Shot Kick De Bucket – The Pioneers
2 Six and Seven Books of Moses – Toots & The Maytals
3 Rivers of Babylon – The Melodians
4 Forward March – Derrick Morgan
5 Liquidator – Harry J. All Stars
6 Israelites – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
7 007 (Shanty Town) – Desmond Dekker and The Aces
1 My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small
2 54-46 Was My Number – Toots & The Maytals
3 Keep On Running – The Spencer Davis Group
4 Gimme Some Lovin’ – The Spencer Davis Group
5 Mockingbird – Charlie & Inez Foxx
6 Harlem Shuffle – Bob & Earl
7 I Can’t Stand It – The Soul Sisters
And speaking of Bob Marley…
After a hugely successful year, Bob Marley 75 continues into 2021 with several birthday celebrations around Marley's 76th Birthday on February 6th.
Just in time for Marley's birthday, the highly acclaimed Songs of Freedom: The Island Years, an extraordinary 6LP set, as well as a 3CD set, was made available worldwide on February 5th. A limited-edition color 6LP set featuring two red, two green, and two gold vinyl LPs is also available. Streamlined to the period of Bob Marley's emergence and stardom, with rare tracks on vinyl for the first time outside Jamaica.
In conjunction with Tuff Gong and UMe, a division of the Universal Music Group, the Marley family will continue to ensure the highest quality, integrity, and care is taken to honor Bob's legacy and to celebrate one of the 20th century's most important and influential figures.
Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Radio is available on channel 19 and the SiriusXM app in the Hip-Hop/R&B category. Special programming will continue to air on the channel beyond Marley's birthday in honor of Black History Month.
Peloton and Tuff Gong partnered to launch Peloton's newest signature Artist Series today to kick off Peloton's Black History Month programming and celebrate the birthday of Marley that exclusively features and celebrates classes designed around his iconic catalog.
Starting February 3, Peloton Members will be able to work out to Bob Marley's music, alongside a community of over 3.6 million, across fitness disciplines ranging from cycling, yoga, strength, and running. The Peloton Bob Marley Artist Series features an assortment of live and on-demand classes, which can be enjoyed with and without equipment on the Peloton App (which currently offers new Members a free trial for two months through January). In addition to the music featured in Peloton's Bob Marley's class series, this collaboration will give Peloton access to the broader Marley catalog, allowing the brand to share the artist's iconic music with its community.
Ziggy Marley has a new book now out BOB MARLEY: PORTRAIT OF A LEGEND, which coincided with his father’s birthday. The glorious oversized book collects more than 150 photographs that celebrate the life and influence of reggae's forefather and one of the greatest musical and sociopolitical icons of twentieth-century pop culture.
In this digital era, Bob Marley remains one of the most followed posthumous artists on social media, and MARLEY75 serves to bring his music and message to the digital foreground, reaching new audiences and perspectives with innovative content and groundbreaking technology. Special live events, exclusive digital content, recordings, exhibitions, plus rare and unearthed treasures will also be revealed throughout the year.
Bob Marley's music continues to inspire generation upon generation, as his legacy lives on through his message of love, justice, and unity, a sentiment needed more than ever. Tune in and subscribe to the Official Bob Marley YouTube channel for more upcoming content celebrating Bob's legacy and contribution to the world.
Marley's music catalog has sold millions of albums worldwide. His iconic collection Legend holds the distinction of being the longest-charting album in the history of Billboard magazine's Catalog Albums chart and remains the world's best-selling reggae album.
May I suggest exploring Legend: The Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers
Originally released on May 8, 1984, Bob Marley’s Legend illustrates the remarkable life and monumental recording career of one of reggae music’s most important figures.
This iconic compilation not only serves as the perfect introduction to the music of Bob Marley, it has become an essential part in every Marley collection. Legend remains the world’s best-selling reggae album and continues to be one of the best-selling catalog albums, exceeding 15 million RIAA-certified copies in the U.S. alone and over 27 million worldwide.
More than 37 years after its retail release, Legend has never stopped selling, dominating Billboard's catalog charts for decades with no signs of letting up. Special-edition reissues boost its sales periodically. The album contains classic Marley anthems like “Three Little Birds,” “Get Up Stand Up,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” “Jamming,” “No Woman No Cry” and “I Shot The Sheriff,” which was later a No. 1 hit for Eric Clapton, as well as “Exodus,” “Redemption Song” and “Is This Love.”
‘“One Love/People Get Ready’ is on the collection,” explained reggae music expert, Marley scholar, and author, Roger Steffens.
“Bob and the Wailers adored Curtis Mayfield and he adored them and saw Curtis with the Impressions at a theater in Kingston in the ‘60s. It was one of the songs they would sing privately and made a beautiful medley with ‘One Love.’ My music will go on forever,’ said Bob Marley. And Legend is the album that seals the deal. As I lecture throughout the world on Marley's life, I find the same response from students everywhere when I ask if they know Bob Marley: ‘If you don't know who Marley is when you arrive at college, by the end of the first week, you'll be introduced to Legend by all the other kids in the dorm,’” guaranteed Steffens.
“Rebel music for the rebellious of each new generation, more timely than ever. The word ‘classic’ doesn't even begin to describe the effect it has continuously. Bob Lives!”
Bob Marley's accolades include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994) and ASCAP Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), multiple entries in the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001).
During 1998 I interviewed teacher, philosopher, and spirit guide, Ram Dass, the author of Be Here Now. In our dialogue I asked Ram Dass about Bob Marley.
“I’d go to places like The Beacon Theater to hear Bob Marley and The Wailers; those kinds of things. Reggae – I loved that stuff. Reggae, Bob Marley blew my mind,” enthused Ram Dass .
“It was his thing, his message; the quality of his being. His quality of being touched me deeply. I was touched very deeply. I felt that the deeper places I would get to in my own inner work, there would be people like who were resonant like that. Those were people who were resonant in that place in myself. You meet somebody who knows your deeper truth. You’re connecting sort of behind the kind of form and façade, and even though it’s through the forms, you can feel you are meeting another mensch, another spiritual being.
“Marley blew my mind. Reggae music fascinated me, and also because of Jamaica and all the grass. All of that. The records were always around because everyone else around me had lots of records but…It really wasn’t the lyrics. It was not the lyrics. Most of my friends know all of the lyrics inside out, and I don’t. I was drawn to the music. I came from classical and jazz.”
Harvey Kubernik witnessed 8 concerts by Bob Marley & the Wailers during 1975-1980 and interviewed the band one smoky afternoon at the Island Records office in West Hollywood, California in 1976.
Kubernik is the author of 19 books, including This Is Rebel Music, Canyon Of Dreams: The Magic And The Music Of Laurel Canyon and Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll In Los Angeles 1956-1972. Sterling/Barnes and Noble in 2018 published Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik’s The Story Of The Band: From Big Pink To The Last Waltz. For September 2021 the duo has written a multi-narrative volume on Jimi Hendrix for Sterling/Barnes and Noble.
Otherworld Cottage Industries in 2020 published Harvey’s book, Docs That Rock, Music That Matters, featuring interviews with D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Albert Maysles, Murray Lerner, Morgan Neville, Dr. James Cushing, Curtis Hanson, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Andrew Loog Oldham, Dick Clark, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Travis Pike, Allan Arkush, and David Leaf, among others.
This century Kubernik wrote the liner note booklets to the CD re-releases of Carole King’s Tapestry, Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish, Elvis Presley The ’68 Comeback Special and The Ramones’ End of the Century). Harvey and Andrew Loog Oldham wrote the liner essays to The Essential Carole King.
In November 2006, Harvey Kubernik was a speaker discussing audiotape preservation and archiving at special hearings called by The Library of Congress and held in Hollywood, California.
Kubernik’s writings are in several book anthologies, most notably The Rolling Stone Book Of The Beats and Drinking With Bukowski. Harvey penned a back cover endorsement for author Michael Posner’s book on Leonard Cohen that Simon & Schuster, Canada published in October 2020, Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: The Early Years).
During 2020 Harvey Kubernik served as a Consultant on the 2-part documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time directed by Alison Ellwood. Kubernik is currently working on a documentary about Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member singer/songwriter Del Shannon.
Harvey is also spotlighted for the 2013 BBC-TV documentary Bobby Womack Across 110th Street, directed by James Meycock. Womack, Bill Withers, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, Damon Albarn of Blur, the Gorillaz and Antonio Vargas are featured.
Kubernik was interviewed last decade by director/producer Neil Norman for his GNP Crescendo documentary, The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard. Jan Savage and Daryl Hooper original members of the Seeds participated along with Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys, Iggy Pop, Kim Fowley, Jim Salzer, the Bangles, photographer Ed Caraeff, Mark Weitz of the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Johnny Echols of Love. Miss Pamela Des Barres supplied the narration. Debut broadcast on television will be in 2021.
This decade Harvey was filmed for the currently in-production documentary about former Hollywood landmark Gold Star Recording Studio and co-owner/engineer Stan Ross produced and directed by Brad Ross and Jonathan Rosenberg. Brian Wilson, Herb Alpert, Richie Furay, Darlene Love, Mike Curb, Chris Montez, Bill Medley, Don Randi, Hal Blaine, Shel Talmy, Richard Sherman, Don Peake, Kim Fowley, Johnny Echols, Gloria Jones, Carol Kaye, Marky Ramone, David Kessel and Steven Van Zandt have been lensed.