May 24, 1973
The Wailers gave an extraordinary live concert at the BBC’s Paris Theatre, which was broadcast as part of the ‘Top Gear’ pop music series. Performing on the British radio network for the second time, the Wailers were on their best behaviour, and the performance emerged as a perfect jewel, almost “chamber reggae” in the band’s precision and attention to detail. After a well-meaning but fumbling compere, Pete Drummond, introduced the group to raucous whistles and applause from the Wailers’ loyal West Indian clique, Bob said thank you and the group clicked into the show-opener, “Rastaman Chant.” The band was nervous and Bunny’s opening drumbeat was tentative, but then the Barrett brothers synched in and the angelic Wailers harmony rang out:
Said I here the words of the Rasta man seh/Babylon your throne gone down, gone down/Babylon your throne gone down.
After three minutes and fifteen seconds of harmony, the Wailers were cut off and the compere began his between-song patter. “That was a chant, which is sort of a roots song for the Wailers, to do with a cult which is Rasta Faria (sic) which a lot of West Indians are turning to, which was extremely popular in the 1920s. Rasta meaning ‘head,’ Faria meaning ‘creator.’ This next number is on their current album, Catch A Fire, composed by Bob Marley. It’s called ‘Slave Driver.’ ” Carly Barrett tapped out the opening beats, and a subdued version followed, driven by Tosh’s cruelly chopping guitar and Wire’s vivid, passionate organ breaks. When the number was through, the compere gently urged the crowd to dance, and the party was under way. A great rendition of “Stop That Train” was next, with Tosh delivering his strongest singing of the tour over the breathless harmonies of Bunny and Bob. The Wailers’ vaunted harmonies were again on display in the a cappella choral intro to “No More Trouble,” which segued into a hard-rocking groove as soon as the rhythm section kicked in. Tosh followed this with an improvised lyric on “400 Years”: Won’t you come with me/You’re black and you’re proud/So you got to be free,” as the band supplied impeccable dub on the song’s coda. “Look how long…400 years!” Now the intensity of the set was starting to really build. “Midnight Ravers” was a bass/dub showpiece, six minutes of apocalyptic imagery, the “music of stampede” invading the staid precincts of the BBC.
(This review is an extract from the book, Bob Marley - Conquering Lion by Stephen Davis, 1983)
BBC "In Concert"
Bootleg: "First Trip" [TDK!] (TDCY-6005)
Lineage: Silver > xACT > FLAC
01. Rasta Man Chant
02. Slave Driver
03. Stop That Train
04. No More Trouble
05. 400 Years
06. Midnight Ravers
07. Stir It Up
08. Concrete Jungle
09. Get Up, Stand Up
10. Kinky Reggae
I think this is a different source because this version has no announcements at all.
The quality is superb. This sounds like a PreFM recording.