Bob Marley – Live!

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  • Amazing sound on this Shootout Winning British Island pressing – Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it on both sides 
  • We were blown away by this copy – you won’t believe how big and rich this music can sound (especially if all you know is domestic or modern pressings)
  • Recorded in 1975 and released between Natty Dread (1974) and Rastaman Vibration (1976), Marley was at the peak of his powers at this time
  • This album is a real contender to make the next update of our Top 100 list – it’s that impressive
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “One of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era.”

This copy gives you EXCELLENT LIVE SOUND, not to mention KILLER PERFORMANCES of many of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ reggae classics. We picked up a bunch of these recently and had the chance to shoot them out; we were absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the sound on the better copies. The Hot Stamper pressings we found were so darn good that this one almost made our Rock and Pop Top 100 list. Maybe it will become an official member next year if we’re lucky enough to find more great copies.

Most audiophiles don’t seem to be much into reggae, but we’ve had a blast doing shootouts for some of the classic Marley / Wailers albums. The music is wonderful (check out the All Music Guide review, where they call this “one of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era”) and the sound can be off the charts.

None of us here had any idea what an amazing live recording this album was until we threw a copy on the table just for kicks one day and heard an extremely well-recorded live reggae concert jumping out of the speakers. We pulled together enough clean copies to make a full shootout happen and this was one of the best copies to come out of it.

What the best sides of this Live Reggae Album have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1975
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the keyboards, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the concert hall

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What do the best Hot Stamper pressings give you?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Size and Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.

Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British original copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of original British pressings of Classic Rock albums.

One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Trenchtown Rock
Burnin’ & Lootin’
Them Belly Full
Lively Up Yourself

Side Two

No Woman, No Cry
I Shot the Sheriff
Get Up, Stand Up

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

Passionate and symbiotic energies constantly cycle between the band and audience, the net result of which is one of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era… there is no denying that Bob Marley & the Wailers were becoming the unlikeliest of pop music icons. Additionally, Live! underscores the underrated talents of the Wailers as musicians. Older works such as “Burnin’ and Lootin'” and “I Shot the Sheriff” benefit greatly from Tyrone Downie’s keyboard punctuation and the soulful backing vocals of the I-Threes.

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