The late reggae icon Bunny Wailer has shot up the Reggae iTunes Charts in the wake of his death. Like other legendary artistes before him, including Michael Jackson, Prince, and Toots Hibbert, news of his death has seen his biggest hits topping the charts and radio playlists.
As of March 7, Bunny Wailer's 'This Train' shot up the iTunes top 100 charts to #40, while 'I Gotta Keep on Moving' soared up to #51. The latter single, 'I Gotta Keep On Moving' was a full re-working of the Impressions' 'I've Got To Keep On Moving' that the group had taken a stab at with Lee 'Scratch' Perry at Studio One, and featured Bunny's vocals sung in the style of Curtis Mayfield of the Impressions - on the bridge. He later re-did the song as a single.
Wailer's style of music was influenced by gospel music and the soul singer Mayfield. He recorded 'This Train' in 1967, based on a gospel standard, for the first time, at Studio One.
Wailer's iconic 'Fighting Against Conviction' also popped up on the chart at #66. Although ganja and reggae have always gone hand in hand as the genre's holy sacrament, reggae pioneers like Toots Hibbert and Bunny Wailer risked their freedom by smoking the holy herb. In June 1967, Bunny was arrested for possession of ganja and received a mandatory 18-month sentence at Richmond Prison Farm.
Reggae fans will recall Wailer's vocals as he bleeds all over the track crooning: 'battering down sentence, fighting against conviction'.
Wailer sums up the atavistic social dynamics at play in the ghetto that leads young men to often be victims of incarceration, when he sings: In a family of ten and raised in the ghetto/hustling is the only education I know/can't grow no crops in this concrete jungle/a situation like this is getting too tough to handle".
Wailer ends the third verse of 'Fighting Against Conviction' with the pessimistic line: “Skillful as I am, the jailer-man is bound to find me/I pray the day will come when I shall be free.”
In a side note, Bunny Wailer wrote and produced Marcia Griffith's 'Electric Boogie' which is at #94 on the iTunes top 100 chart. He arranged the Bob Marley and the Wailers' hit, Sun is Shining which is at #75 on the charts.
Bunny Wailer died on March 2. The legendary icon, whose real name was Neville Livingston, had an illustrious career that spanned at least seven decades. He was the last surviving member of the original Wailers that included Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. After leaving the Wailers in 1974 after the one true Wailers tour of England and the United States, Bunny embarked on a solo recording career that established him as one of the most compelling voices in reggae. Wailer launched his own label, Solomonic, in the early '70s, and his 1976 solo debut, Blackheart Man -- considered one of reggae's magnus opuses -- set the stage for other masterpieces, such as his next two albums, "Protest" and "Struggle" which featured strong Pan African themes.