The classic ‘Kaya’ album is now forty years old and here is a brand-new remix of all ten tracks, courtesy of Stephen Marley, released in conjunction with the original album. It is hard to imagine that the original version could be improved upon, and, unlike some Bob Marley remixes (such as ‘Roots, Rock. Remixed’) there is no attempt here to construct new songs from the old ones. Instead, the Kaya 40 remix is relatively subtle: for instance, adding a dub-leaning mix to ‘Sun is Shining’ and ‘Kaya’ itself or bringing out the lead guitar (presumably from Julian ‘Junior’ Marvin) more strongly on ‘Crisis’. Stephen Marley has used Bob’s vocals from demos of the same tracks and made use of different takes of the songs to come up with something distinctive.
Musically, the band at this time, featuring Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, Carlton Barrett and Tyrone Downie, were at their peak. Listening to these songs today, it is striking how strong they remain melodically. ‘She’s Gone’ is a powerful song, and when it comes to final track ‘Time Will Tell’ you can almost hear the bells ringing in the local gospel church.
No fussing and fighting, this has always been a gentle and relaxed album. Now, with a more assertive remix, it gains a new, and well-deserved, lease of life. Stephen Marley’s remix respects the integrity of the original album and, unlikely though it seems, manages to improve it. A great listen.
Bob Marley and the Wailers: Kaya 40 Stephen Marley Remix; 2 CD, 2 vinyl, and digital releases, 24th August 2018
There was good reason to release a double-CD ‘deluxe edition’ of the Wailers’ Catch a Fire back in 2001. One disc was the cross-over album which in the 70s brought reggae to mainstream rock audiences (and mainstream sales figures) thanks to the efforts of Chris Blackwell, some fine additional instrumentation provided by session musicians (notably the rock guitar solo from Wayne Perkins added to Concrete Jungle – see link below), and some very astute marketing. The other disc comprised the original album before Chris Blackwell got his hands on it. Together, these discs made sense, and sounded great.
It is hard to apply any similar logic to the new ‘deluxe edition’ of Kaya. One disc is the studio album as re-released/remastered in 2001, including – as before – the ‘bonus track’ Smile Jamaica. The album Kaya is, of course, great: a classic of its time where some of the old Marley tracks are being visibly re-cast for new times, as in the rough-cut skanking Don’t Rock My Boat becoming the late-night soulful Satisfy My Soul. The other disc this time round is an OK live album. It has no particular relationship with Kaya other than being recorded in 1978. Not that there is anything especially wrong with that. But if you want a live Wailers’ release there is already Babylon by Bus or the unsurpassed Live (at the Lyceum). Indeed, the latter pretty much makes any further live releases redundant, especially ones which retail over the odds at full price like this.
The repackaging of Marley continues unabated but, in this case, to little purpose…‘think it funny – turning rebellion into money?’ Well, not really. Sometimes it’s just a bit depressing.
Bob Marley and the Wailers: Kaya Deluxe Edition CD/download, release April 2013.