Certain Songs #113: Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Slave Driver”

Album: Catch A Fire

Year: 1973.

It is my firm belief that no human beings – not McCartney, Lennon & Harrson, not the Wilsons & their cousins, not even Supremes or Temptations – have ever sung together as beautifully as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh & Bunny Livingstone.  Exhibit A: the group harmonies of “Slave Driver,” which come together so perfectly you almost don’t even realize how political it is.

Also, “Slave Driver” – at least on the U.S. version of Catch a Fire – is one of the few songs to invoke The Handclap Rule (“Handclaps make a good song great and a great song immortal) totally in context of the lyrics. When Marley sings:

Ev’rytime I hear the crack of a whip, 

[CLAP CLAP] 

My blood runs cold. 

The handclaps are doing double duty as both a lyrical and rhythmic punctuation. Of course, as always, it’s the rhythmic punctuation where they work the best, as they are being repeated throughout the song, as are those wonderful harmonies.

"Slave Driver” performed live in 1973

My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist:

Every “Certain Song” Ever

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