Colin Grant has written an impressive book in his historical look at the Wailer's history, and The Natural Mystics: Marley,Tosh, and Wailer shines with insightful gems about Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer.
This book reveals the importance of their music on a world-wide scale. Additionally, the reader is given an in-depth tour of the neo-African religions and animist cults of Jamaica. The book is a reading experience, rich in detail and filled with insights into the lives of the men, and Jamaica. The photos in the book add greatly to giving the readers a visual contact as to how the slums of Kingston shaped these innovative singers, and also some interesting looks at the men themselves as they were about the business of making their unique music. How these men functioned and survived is of prime importance, for to them, successful entertainment meant food and having food to eat!
The trio is shown from its beginnings with a Trenchtown neighbor named Joe Higgs teaching the three men the fundamentals of music and the importance of harmony. A lively presentation of how ghetto life was interwoven into the songs is detailed and a look at the influences affecting the Wailers as a singing unit. Following the men from their childhoods through achieving international fame with the help of producers Leslie Kong, Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd, Lee "Scratch" Perry, among other influences such as Chris Blackwell who was the founder of Island Records. From the time of the Wailer's first major album in 1972 titled Catch A Fire, they establish the rendering role in Jamaican music and internationalize reggae as a form of musical expression. The author also shares a well-defined and clear explanation of reggae's association with Rastafari.
Colin Grant is a gifted writer, and he captures the essence of a scene or individual in crisp, authentic tones. One section of the book that stands out is Colin Grant's visit to a witch doctor (Obeah-man) to document and write about the active spirit world outside of Kingston, Jamaica. All in all, this is a top-notch nonfiction book about a topic of great interest to those who enjoy reggae music and its orgins and associations. Colin Grant is also the author of the book, Negro With A Hat, a biography of Marcus Garvey. Colin Grant is a historian who works for BBC radio in England.
For those interested in reggae, this is one of the finest books published to date on its founders, musicians, and associations. Highly recommended. This is another fine book from the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, whose publications can be found at http://www.norton.com.