Survival – Bob Marley & The Wailers [1979]

Survival - Bob Marley & The Wailers [1979]

Survival - Bob Marley & The Wailers [1979]

Survival - Bob Marley & The Wailers [1979]

Survival‘ was released in 1979 on Island Records and Tuff Gong Records, It marked a return to a more militant themes in Bob Marley’s music and the album was originally going to be called ‘Black Survival.

The album cover is comprised of 48 African flags representing a call for unity and strength in numbers, over an image of a slave ship.

The artwork was designed by a Jamaican-born, but US-based artist called Neville Garrick. Garrick was responsible for a number of other Marley album sleeves, and also went on to provide artwork for Burning Spear (Hail H.I.M, Farover), Bunny Wailer (Blackheart Man), Steel Pulse, Peter Tosh (Wanted Dread & Alive) and many more. Neville Garrick also created the backdrop for the iconic Reggae Sunsplash festival.

Wake Up And Live 4:55
Africa Unite 2:55
One Drop 3:52
Ride Natty Ride 3:53
Ambush In The Night 3:14
So Much Trouble In The World 4:00
Zimbabwe 3:49
Top Rankin’ 3:09
Babylon System 4:21
Survival 3:54


Listen to ‘Top Rankin’ by Bob Marley

Listen to ‘One Drop’ by Bob Marley


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Ranking Joe – Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

Ranking Joe - Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

Ranking Joe - Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

Ranking Joe - Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

First released in 1978 on Greensleeves records ‘Weakheart Fadeaway’ collected together ten previously recorded Ranking Joe tracks, all recorded and mixed at Channel One Recording Studios, and released on the Channel One label.

Produced by Jo Jo Hookim (Joseph Hoo Kim), this collection featured The Revolutionaires on the riddims who at the time featured some of the best musicians of the era including Sly & Robbie, Ranchie, Ansel Collins, Duggie, and Sticky.

Ranking Joe cut his teeth on the legendary Stur Gav Sound System, and he is in top form on this album. Most long-time reggae fans will be familiar with most of the riddims featured on this album, but the production is slick and Ranking Joe brings his own unique pattern and excitement to each of the tracks.

The artwork is pretty special too. This album easily benefited from the Greensleeves release who clearly put some design effort to create a striking image of the dread on the motorbike – the artwork was created by Paul Smykle, and the sleeve was printed out by Garrod & Lofthouse.

The artwork reminds a bit of Dillinger’s ‘Bionic Dread‘ album on Island Records from 1976.


  • Dub Sister Dub It
  • Rock Pon De Rock
  • A Dread Earthquake
  • Natty Dread A Trademan
  • Nine Months Belly
  • Weakheart Fadeaway
  • Natty The Collie Smoker
  • Queen Tell
  • Honest Living
  • Milkman Coming

Listen To It

Listen to ‘Earthquake’ by Ranking Joe:

Listen to ‘Weakheart fadeaway’ by Ranking Joe:


Prince Jazzbo – Natty Passing Thru / Ital Corner

Prince Jazzbo Ital Corner

Prince Jazzbo Natty Passing Thru

Prince Jazzbo Ital Corner

Prince Jazzbo, as well as being one of the more under-rated DJs – at least outside of the more passionate and knowledgeable reggae circles, also has a large footprint of both wonderful and poor album covers.

This is one of the wonderful ones.

‘Natty Passing Thru’ was first released in 1976 on Black Wax records, and was later re-released under the name ‘Ital Corner’ on Clocktower Records.

The first release on Black Wax records can be seen in the image at the top and featured a bold cover design featuring a dreadlocked face.

The release that came later on Clocktower records featured a New York style street populated by various dreads hanging around on ‘Ital Corner’. The Clocktower logo is prominent in the upper left corner of the record sleeve and the artwork was credited to Brad Osborne and Jamaal Pete.

Jamaal Pete was a New York based artist that produced some stunning reggae album sleeves – his signature style was painted images, always busy and detailed with bold colours, and often with an otherworldly and fantasy elements.

It is quite rare for a re-release to feature artwork that is as good and as arresting as the original – I personally love the urban 70’s feeling that seeps out of the artwork on the Clocktower release and the fact that the streetlight on the album cover gives off the impression that it is only illuminating a fraction of what is going on in the busy scene – it’s like discovering some hidden part of a city, and only getting a glimpse.

The 1981 re-release also featured a red, gold, and green border (as seen in the image above).

Both releases are effectively the same album, but the track-listing is in a different order on each. The music is incredible and Prince Jazzbo DJs over a selection of Lee Perry produced Black Ark tracks. This is one of the few DJ albums to be released that was based entirely around Lee Perry’s Black Ark productions (Jah Lion’s Colombia Colly springs to mind as another).

Track Listing – ‘Natty Passing Thru’ [Black Wax release]

  • Dreadlocks Corner
  • Story Come To Bump
  • Natty Passin Thru’ Rome
  • Hold My Hand
  • Prophet Live
  • Ital Corner
  • Bloody Dunza
  • Weepin’ And Wailin’
  • Live Good Today
  • Life Is Gonna Easy

Track Listing for ‘Ital Corner’ [Clocktower release]:

  • Ital Corner
  • Natty Past Through Rome
  • Prophet Live
  • Prophet Dub – Satta
  • Live Good Today
  • Dreadlock Corner
  • Coming On Strong
  • Blood Dunza…
  • Weeping And Wailing
  • Story Come To Bump

Listen To It
Listen to ‘Story Come To Bump’ by Prince Jazzbo:

Listen to ‘Ital Corner’ by Prince Jazzbo:

Buy It
The good news is that this album is still pretty easy to pick up on CD, or as an MP3 download (for some great pricing).

The Congos – Heart Of The Congos [1977]


The Congos - Heart Of The Congos

This is going straight into the Iconic & Classic Album Covers category.

Produced by Lee Perry and classed by many as one of the greatest vocal roots albums ever made, The Heart Of The Congos also has a wonderful album cover to match the music.

The cover shows Cedric Myton and Roy Johnson, the main vocalists, playing congo drums in, what is said to be, a local fishing shed – which totally suits the ‘local’ and ‘rural’ feel that the music conveys.

The album itself has also been known as ‘Heart of the Congo Man’ and was first released on Lee Perry’s ‘Black Art’ label in 1977.

If you have never heard this album, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy – it is a dense and complex roots production with soaring vocals and melodies. The uninitiated may find it hard going at first, but perseverance will eventually reward you as you’ll discover more and more layers to the album with every listen. Steve Barrow (founder of Blood & Fire records and reggae historian) stated the “Heart Of The Congos is the most perfectly realized album to come from Lee Perry’s Black Ark.”

Track List:

  • Fisherman
  • Congoman
  • Open Up The Gate
  • Children Crying
  • La La Bam Bam
  • Can’t Come In
  • Sodom And Gomorrow
  • The Wrong Thing
  • Ark Of The Covenant
  • Solid Foundation

The album has been reissued a number of times on a number of different labels, and more recently the now (sadly) demised Blood & Fire label produced an extended version that captured extra tracks and recordings.

The album cover produced for the re-issue was reverential to the themes contained in the original songs, and even tried to maintain the ‘home-made feel’ to the artwork – it featured the original cover mounted in the center of a sculpture, and surrounded it with symbols relating to the spirit and themes contained within the album.

Album cover for the Blood and Fire re-issue of ‘Heart of the Congos':
The Congos - Heart Of The Congos Blood and Fire

Track Listing for the Blood and Fire re-issue of ‘Heart of the Congos':

  • Fisherman
  • Congoman
  • Open Up The Gate
  • Children Crying
  • La La Bam Bam
  • Can’t Come In
  • Sodom And Gomorrow
  • The Wrong Thing
  • Ark Of The Covenant
  • Solid Foundation
  • At The Feast
  • NicodemusCongoman
  • Congoman Chant
  • Bring The Meakabeak
  • Noah Sugar Pan
  • Solid Foundation

The re-issue is a nice tribute to the original album, but at the end of the day we prefer the original photo and hand-made design of the original release for defining the spirit of this wonderful album.

Listen To It

Listen to ‘Children Crying’ by The Congos:

Listen to ‘Fisherman’ by The Congos:

Buy It
Still widely available on CD or download:

The Jolly Brothers – Conscious Man

The Jolly Brothers - Conscious Man

The Jolly Brothers - Conscious Man

The Jolly Brothers - Conscious Man [back]

There is something that warms me everytime that I see this album cover – maybe it’s the lack of pretension, the totally natural album artwork, or maybe my response is influenced by the incredible music that is contained on this record. This is basically the best reggae album that you’ve never heard (and if you have heard it, then you’ve already got your reward).

These tracks were recorded and produced in 1977  by Lee Perry at The Black Ark studio, yet strangely they weren’t released until 1993 on the Seven Leaves record label. The album was pressed in limited numbers and is pretty much impossible to find now. I always wanted the Blood and Fire label to pick this one up for re-release and give it the attention it deserves.

The Congos “Heart of the Congos” album is usually referenced as being one of the defining works to come from the Black Ark Studio when Lee Perry was at the height of his production powers, but for our money, this record is right up there too.

This album is packed full of glorious singing, amazing harmonies and first rate songwriting, all recorded over some incredible, dark, and complex Black Art productions.

Plus if I ever found myself wanting to go on a fishing trip – then it would be with these guys.

Track Listing:

  • Conscious Man
  • Brotherly Love
  • Have A Little Faith
  • Back Biter
  • Cool Down
  • Babylon A Fight Rasta
  • Dread Dreader
  • Play Play
  • Oppression
  • Colour

Listen To It
Listen to Conscious Man by The Jolly Brothers:

Listen to Babylon A Fight Rasta by The Jolly Brothers:

Listen to Dread Dreader by The Jolly Brothers: