Although most people are very familiar with Bob Marley's Island Records years and his attendant international superstardom, the truth is that Marley's long pre-Island career releasing singles with the Wailers on small Jamaican labels may well be ultimately more fascinating. This interesting set collects singles and alternate takes that Bob Marley & the Wailers recorded for Clement Dodd at Dodd's Studio One between 1964 and 1966, and they show the Wailers moving through ska into a kind of proto-rocksteady stance. The master tapes for these sessions have long since vanished, so everything here is transferred from near-mint condition period singles that Dodd released on his various imprints, which included Coxsone, Studio One, Supreme, Tabernacle, and Wincox. The Wailers were very much a group at this time, and it wasn't quite the Bob Marley show yet (that wouldn't really happen until Island stepped in almost a decade later), and the heavy influence of American R&B vocal groups is readily apparent, particularly that of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. Highlights here include the title track, Mayfield's "Another Dance" (featuring a fine tenor sax break by Roland Alphonse); an early ska version of "One Love" (Marley re-recorded the song for 1977's Exodus album and that version has been used by the Jamaican Tourist Board ever since in promo spots); the gorgeous "It Hurts to Be Alone," which spotlights the singing talents of early Wailers member Junior Braithwaite (not to mention the jazz guitar figures of Ernest Ranglin); and the tent revival-tinged "I Left My Sins," originally issued by Dodd on his gospel imprint, Tabernacle. More archival and historical in intent than commercial, this set weaves its own magic and spotlights a time when the Wailers were actually the Wailers and not just Bob Marley's backup band.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett