Thursday, September 8, 2016

40 Year Itch : Together on that Dreamland

Bunny Wailer : Dreamland

In the holy trinity of the original harmony trio known as the Wailers, you have Bob Marley. You have Peter Tosh. And then you have Neville Livingstone a.k.a. Bunny Wailer. The most mystic of the three, Wailer was the last to release an album. Despite its creepy dark cover of a Rastafarian who appears to be transforming into a lion, Blackheart Man, released on September 8, 1976,  is a mostly joyous, mellow album with great grooves. Closer to Kaya in spirit than Natty Dread.

To these ears, the short songs are the best. "Dreamland" is a beautiful deep cut featuring not just the Sons of the Jungle horn section, and not just Aston and Carlton Barrett on bass and drums respectively, but also Peter Tosh on rhythm guitar and Bob Marley on backing vocals. There seems to be no bad blood between the Wailers. 

"Dreamland" is a song of longing for a land far away :

We'll get our breakfast from the tree 
We'll get our honey from the bees 
We'll take a ride on the waterfalls 
And all the glories, we'll have them all

The title track remembers childhood days when parents warned their kids to stay away from the "black hearted" dreadlocked men who would offer them candy and them steal them away.

I have heard that Bunny Wailer's version of "This Train" is the best, but plodding at nearly nine minutes in length, I've yet to sit all the way through it without letting my mind wander. But there are plenty of other gems here.  Blackheart Man may not be 1976's best reggae album, but we are talking about 1976. It's still essential to anyone with a reggae collection numbering twenty albums.

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