In the wake of reggae's breakthrough into rock awareness with the Robin Hood saga, The Harder They Come
, the soundtrack that first rooted the music's sultry push beat and seductive patois in the underclass struggles of modern Jamaica erupted forcefully on this 1973 classic--The Wailers' second album targeting beyond their underground to fresh, impressionable rock fans. What was a revelation to rockers was really the work of a seasoned band captured on the eve of internal upheaval: Trenchtown stars since the late '60s, the band's most charismatic member, Bob Marley, loomed as its perceived frontman, a development which hastened the departures of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and made Burnin'
the final statement from that earlier configuration. The original version of "I Shot the Sheriff," which had spread reggae's outlaw ethos and staccato, propulsive sound on Eric Clapton's hit cover, is more than matched by the anthemic "Get Up, Stand Up," the call-to-arms of "Burnin' And Lootin'," the Rastafarian pride of "Rasta Man Chant," as well as strong remakes of "Small Axe" and "Duppy Conqueror." --Sam Sutherland