Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Catch A Fire

The One Love Concert that took place in the National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica in 1978 is remembered for the iconic moment Bob Marley forced Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, the two opposing leaders of rival factions fighting (literally) to take power over the island, to smile at one another and shake each other's hand before a capacity audience and more importantly the clicks and flashes of the world's media.

Another political action took place at the now famous concert, but it was an act that was conveniently forgotten, inadvertently displaced by Marley's act of symbolic 'harmony'.

For before The Wailers even took to the stage, Manley and Seaga who were seated a few seats away from each other in the front row, suffered the wrath of Peter Tosh, who was appearing with his own band, having left The Wailers in 1974.
Tosh lambasted the two political rivals with what Lloyd Bradley described in his excellent book Bass Culture as 'molten rage'.

Tosh then pulled out a spliff, or as he referred to it, 'one lickle draw of blood claat 'erb', and proceeded to fire it up.
'While the politicians literally squirmed in severe embarrassment, the massed ranks of police officers seethed with fury.'

Marley's moment was crystallised, shown around the world, and Bob went on to become the first 'Third-World Superstar' and one of music's greatest unit shifters.

Tosh's moment was very nearly obliterated.
It revealed his belligerent and subversive edge (record companies also suffered his wrath), and it almost certainly lead to his consequential arrest a couple of months later, where he was held in custody on a possession charge and apparently 'beaten into unconsciousness' by Kingston police.

It seemed Tosh was destined to follow in the manicured enormity of his one time musical collaborator - Bob cast a massive shadow, and Tosh rarely managed to break out into the light.

Even when The Glimmer Twins paid homage, Bush Doctor couldn't rival the sales of Exodus or Kaya.
(Mick Jagger sings a vocal duet with Tosh on the album's opener, a cover of the Smokey Robinson song '(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back'.
Keith Richards adds some slight guitar to the mighty 'Bush Doctor' and the honorable 'Stand Firm'.)

Tosh's insistent evangelism (celebrating cannabis was one thing, but celebrating god...) with the inclusion of deeply spiritual songs didn't necessarily appeal to the breadth of the potential Western market.

But Tosh stood firm. He was a man of principles and he stuck to them.
For that he should be celebrated.

Peter Tosh! Jah-Rastafari!

Peter Tosh - Bush Doctor (1978)

(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back
Pull Myself Up
I'm The Toughest
Soon Come
Moses - The Prophet
Bush Doctor
Stand Firm
Dem Ha Fe Get A Beatin'

Immaculate cassette rip @320kbs
Let Peter light you up here


michaelDUSTdevil said...

my man!... thank you sir... Mxxx

klf said...

Thanks, this is a tough find, these days! I saw Marley twice in a row back in the fall of '79 (Dread inna Hamilton at Colgate University and then about a week, or so, later in Philly), and then Tosh at the Tower in Upper Darby at some point in the relatively near future. Thanks for the effort!