Fun Fact: Did you know that the first 20,000 copies of Bob Marley’s band, The Wailers album Catch A Fire were designed to look like a Zippo lighter?
As a matter of fact, the sleeve functioned as a real Zippo lighter case, opening at a side hinge to reveal the record within. The machinery was not sufficient to rivet the upper and lower halves of the sleeve together. Due to this, the assembly operation required hand-manufacture and it was deemed too expensive to mass-produce.
As a result subsequent pressings were made, which are recognizable by their alternate cover art. This was an Ester Anderson portrait of Bob Marley smoking a joint. Copies of the record from these original pressings have since become collectors’ items, and the original cover art was used again in 2001 for the Deluxe compact disc edition.
Catch a Fire is the major-label-debut album for Jamaican reggae band The Wailers, released on Island Records in 1973. The album established the band as international superstars. The socially aware lyrics and militant tone surprised many listeners. Other fans became attracted to songwriters Bob Marley and Peter Tosh’s confrontational subjects and optimistic view of a future free from oppression.
Then, the master tapes were taken to the UK for remixing. Chris Blackwell enlisted the help of two US musicians – making an “English” version of the album. Wayne Perkins re-did some of the rhythm/ lead guitar. John “Rabbit” Bundrick added some organ, electric piano, clarinet and synthesizer.
In addition, Catch a Fire peaked at #171 on Billboard’s (North America) Pop Albums. It also hit #51 on the Black Albums charts. It is number 123 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. This is the second highest placement of the four Bob Marley albums on the list.
Article by Kailee Maguire