Bunny Wailer

Sings the Wailers

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AllMusic Review by

As the title suggests, Bunny Wailer tackles ten of his former band's songs. You might be tempted to play them back to back with the originals. Don't. Enjoy this for what it was meant to be: a renewal of old Wailers favorites for the modern age. Of course this seems a surreal idea today, but, in 1980, Bunny had no idea that the Wailers' back catalog would soon become an industry in itself. For, at the time, although the group was dead, its members were still very much alive. Although the Wailers swiftly became a proper band, at heart they were a vocal trio, and a vocal trio stands and falls on three voices, regardless of the lead -- something this album inadvertently drives home. Without the harmonies, much of the songs' charm is lost, something Bunny obviously recognized, and attempted to alleviate by harmonizing with himself. In this he was only partially successful, however, many of the songs do gain musically via the arrangements. The masterful backing band featuring the usual top notch session men -- Sly & Robbie, Earl "Chinna" Smith," et al. -- lay down an evocative roots accompaniment, with hints of dubby overtones, but not such deep roots as to overwhelm the more delicate numbers. This works particularly well on the rocksteady songs, with "Hippocrite" and "Rule This Land" in particular gaining new life. Unfortunately, the singer on occasion overreaches himself, and his vocal strength just isn't up to the likes of "I Stand Predominate" and "I'm the Toughest" (proving once again that, indeed, Peter Tosh was). Oddly enough, the weakest track is Bunny's own "Dreamland," probably because his original was nigh on perfect and remains unbeatable. However, a bubbly "Dancing Shoes" is a winner, as is a particularly perky "Keep on Moving." With Wailers' recordings flooding the market, the entire premise for this album became pointless. It has its moments, though, even if none of the tracks really improve upon the originals.

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