Acoustic Sounds

Bob Marley & The Wailers




Label: Tuff Gong/Analogue Productions

Produced By: Bob Marley & The Wailers

Engineered By: Karl Pitterson

Mixed By: Aston Barrett, Chris Blackwell & Karl Pitterson

Mastered By: Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, Nashville

Lacquers Cut By: Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, Nashville

By: Michael Fremer

February 24th, 2023


World Reggae



Sold Out But Still Worth Reviewing

was this Bob Marley & The Wailers album worth buying as a costly UHQR release?

How do you know a reissue is a sonic success? There's no checklist but I've been playing an original pressing since it was first released and occasionally the Mobile Fidelity Anadisc 200 reissue, so when the stylus dropped onto "Jamming" (I always first play side 2) I wasn't expecting any major surprises.

The opening drum flourish indicated a new level of transparency and clarity, which was nice to hear but the percussive jingle after Marley exclaims "ooh yea!" was startling. At first I thought a glass had fallen off a shelf and broken behind the speaker.

From there it quickly became clear that this mastering was so far superior to both the original and especially the muffled and undistinguished Mo-Fi (among the late Stan Ricker's worst). Every percussive accent, drum smack and addictively rubbery bass line took on greater natural luster. The reverb behind Marley's vocals now stood out with unforced clarity.

I think this record starts shipping today (Feb. 24th) so I'm happy to tell buyers who love this most commercial and pleasing Bob Marley album that their money was well spent. The bass on the record is not particularly deep and Ryan Smith avoided Stan's mistake, which was to try to force out what's not on the tape. That move muddied up the MoFi's bottom end and cast a sonic cloud over the rest. On the new UHQR the bass attack is clean, but not overstated. It's ideal.

Speaking of clouds, Marley wrote the songs for this record and Kaya—20 in allafter fleeing Jamaica following an assassination attempt. He sings about it on the mellow "Jamming" and ends the record with the upbeat, optimistic and healing "One Love/People Get Ready" that became the informal Jamaican national anthem.

From beginning to end, the mellow vibe almost hides Marley's militant/mystical side with lyrics like:

"This could be the first trumpet/Might as well be the last/Many more will have to suffer/Many more will have to die" on the album's opener "Natural Mystic" and enigmatic lines like "When the rain fall, it don't fall on one man's rooftop". On "Guiltiness" Marley sings about oppression: "These are the big fish, Who always try to eat down the small fish, Just the small fish, I tell you what: they would do anything To materialize their every wish." He sings about standing up and fighting on "The Heathen" and of course on the title track, about liberation and freedom. But all is presented laid back and easy to groove to.

The recording, accomplished in London on 24 tracks at Island's Basing Street Studios, was Marley's most sophisticated (a few tracks, as is pointed out in Leroy Jodie Pierson's excellent 2022 annotation written for this UHQR release, were recorded in Jamaica to 16 tracks that were then transferred to 24 tracks). That was clear on previous versions but never as clearly, transparently and three-dimensionally as on this UHQR edition.

If you were lucky enough to score one of these, you will not be disappointed!

Music Specifications

Catalog No: Tuff Gong UHQR 0016

Pressing Plant: Quality Record Pressings


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 200 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: original master tapes

Presentation: Box Set


  • 2023-02-24 11:38:17 PM

    JJ wrote:

    Fabulous to know this pressing sounds so good. Thank you for letting us know. It is my all time favorite album. So much so that dare I say it, it is my desert island record if I could only pick one. Fortunately my copy arrives tomorrow.

    • 2023-02-24 11:46:57 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Please post your reaction!

  • 2023-02-25 01:42:03 AM

    Bloom wrote:

    Thanks for this post. Great album. Looking forward to another amazing pressing from AP.

  • 2023-02-25 04:00:43 AM

    Matt wrote:

    Thanks Michael. A great teaser to those of us who were lucky enough to secure a copy. Chad and the team continue to hit these out of the park. I'll be doing my own comparison with my much beloved 1977 Toshiba Japanese pressing....

  • 2023-02-25 08:21:10 PM

    Polo chavez wrote:

    The review is enough to make me want to meet the Fed Ex truck halfway. Cannot wait!

  • 2023-02-27 05:00:46 PM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    This LP does sound better than any past issue I've heard. While Bob's vocals are a bit recessed in the mix (as they should be), they are clear. The background singers are utterly pure and silky.

    The LP still retains the original timbre, and while it seems there is a lack of top end air, it really is the mix and with a bit of volume applied, it satisfies. Overall, the mix is hasn't been boosted up and remains on the quiet side, seemingly compressed. It is not. There are several percussive elements throughout the LP that are way more dynamic than other iterations, and very welcome. I applaud QRP / AP for just getting it accurate vs. trying to improve the master in some way. QRP is still king of all pressing plants IMO. Their quality control is appreciated.

    The rest of the LP's from BM&W's catalog hit next month and I am looking forward them all but especially Live! and Babylon By Bus, though I wonder if the latter is already a better a pressing from Island records with the 1/2 speed mastering at Abbey Road Studios..?

    • 2023-02-27 05:04:16 PM

      Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

      Let me also say THANK YOU to Michael for creating a website that covers the gamut of music vs. audiophile-centric releases. His diversity in editors pays off in a wider, more inclusive breadth.

  • 2023-02-27 09:18:05 PM

    Anthony J Russo wrote:

    12" HQ-180 Record Pressing 500 thru 999 - $4.70 each 1,000 thru 2,999 - $4.60 each 3,000 thru 4,999 - $4.40 each 5,000+ - $4.30 each Plating is around 500 So why are we paying 150 plus taxes and shipping lol

    • 2023-02-28 06:28:26 PM

      Malachi Lui wrote:

      these reissues are all expensive, yes, but keep in mind that when the audiophile labels do it, they have to pay A LOT of money for licensing. the UHQR box alone cost $15 pre-pandemic too. there's money being made on these, of course, but this is among the most expensive ways to make and package a record.

  • 2023-03-01 06:57:37 AM

    Malachi Lui wrote:

    one minor note: the MFSL ANADISQ reissue was mastered by ken lee, not stan ricker. according to discogs, the runouts on that one say KL/2, not SR/2.

    • 2023-03-03 11:21:42 PM

      Anthony J Russo wrote:

      Malachi he could have done these UHQR’s at 1/2 the price and really hit it out of the park. Like the MFSL of old

      • 2023-03-04 05:35:37 PM

        Malachi Lui wrote:

        the original MFSL UHQR's were $50 each back in 1981-1982. $50 in those days is about $158 now, so the AP UHQR's are priced consistently with the old MFSL UHQR's, and $8 current dollars cheaper!