The early 1970s solidified the sounds of Jamaica with the reggae album Catch a Fire by The Wailers.
The first album issued by Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, this was The Wailers fifth studio album, with songs written by Peter Tosh and Bob Marley.
The Wailers were on tour in 1971 and had singles released by Blackwell, but at the end of the tour didn’t have enough money to return to Jamaica and their work permit had run out.
Promoter Brent Clarke had a promise from Blackwell to release their next album, and he lent money to the band to return to Jamaica to record.
The album was recorded at three different studios in Kingston, Jamaica, with many of the songs about their anger towards poverty, especially among Black communities. The name of the album is a local phrase which means burn in hell.
The original album art was a Zippo lighter, with a side hinge that opened like the lighter to reveal the vinyl album; 20,000 albums had this design.
The 1974 design of the album showed Bob Marley smoking a spliff, (photograph by Esther Anderson) and the album credited to Bob Marley & The Wailers.
Catch A Fire was released in mid-April 1973, with the band going on tour to support in the UK and then America.
In the first week, the album sold 14,000 copies and eventually hit the Billboard Hot 200 album charts, placing at 171.
The tour solidified The Wailers and Bob Marley as the the kings of reggae, and Catch A Fire has since been chosen as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 best albums of all time.