In the earliest days, The Wailers were Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh. Peter was the guy in the band who was a foot taller than everyone else; also the only one who could play any instruments. A huge guy with a huge voice, his songs never in a hurry, and there are a few that people will be listening to centuries from now. For instance, Downpressor Man.
This is from Equal Rights, a really remarkable recording that includes chestnuts like Get Up, Stand Up and Stepping Razor. It’s just a big warm slow bath end-to-end; the words and politics are cutting but the sound is gentle and cradling. It helps that Sly and Robbie are in the bend, which is to say probably the best rhythm section that has ever walked the earth, trailing clouds of ganja smoke.
Peter Tosh sold quite a few records and seemed to enjoy life despite some rough patches; he was eventually gunned down in his own home in Kingston; his killer is still in jail, last time Wikipedia checked. Sadly, I never saw him live.
I’m not really sure what to say about Downpressor Man; it’s not complicated and after you’ve heard the first verse go by you know what the rest will sound like. But it sounds awfully good; a showcase for Tosh’s velvet voice, and like I said, Sly and Robbie.
Downpressor Man / where you gonna run to? … You drink your pink champagne and laugh / Ha ha ha ha … I wouldn’t like to be a flea / under your collar man / all along that day.
Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon. Here’s live video with decent sound and picture, although Peter’s voice doesn’t quite have the beautiful texture he captured on the self-produced Equal Rights.