"It's not music right now, we're dealing with a message. Right now the music not important, we're dealing with a message. Rastaman Vibration is more like a dub kinda album and it's come without tampering y'know. Like 'War' or 'Rat Race', the music don't take you away, it's more to listen to." Bob Marley, June 1976
Rastaman Vibration is a roots reggae album by Bob Marley & The Wailers released on April 30, 1976. The album was a great success in the USA, becoming the first (and only) Bob Marley release to reach the top ten on the Billboard 200 charts (peaking at No. 8), in addition to releasing Marley's most popular US single ("Roots, Rock, Reggae" was the only Bob Marley single to reach the Billboard Hot 100 charts, peaking at No. 51). Synthesizers are featured prominently on this album, adding a breezy embellishment to otherwise hard-driving songs with strong elements of rock guitar.
Although the album's liner notes list multiple songwriters, including family friends and bandmembers, all songs were written by Marley. Marley was involved in a contractual dispute at the time with his former publishing company, Cayman music.
Vincent Ford, a childhood friend from Jamaica, was given writing credit for "No Woman, No Cry" on the 1974 album Natty Dread, as well as the songs "Crazy Baldheads" (with Marley's wife Rita), "Positive Vibration" and "Roots Rock Reggae" from the 1976 album Rastaman Vibration, along with "Inna De Red" and "Jah Bless" with Marley's son, Stephen.
Marley had not wanted his new songs to be associated with Cayman and it was speculated, including in his obituary in The Independent, that he had put them in the names of his friends and family members as a means of avoiding the contractual restrictions and to provide lasting help to family and close friends.
Marley's widow and his former manager Danny Sims sued to obtain royalty and ownership rights to the songs, claiming that Marley had actually written the songs but had assigned the credit to Ford to avoid meeting commitments made in prior contracts. A 1987 court decision favored the Marley estate, which assumed full control of the songs.
On the inside of the original album jacket, to the right, is a message stating "This album jacket is great for cleaning herb."
Northern Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers covered "Johnny Was" on their debut album Inflammable Material, which became the first record on an independent label to enter the UK Top Twenty, entering a number 14 on Rough Trade Records. This cover version, though not released as a single, entered John Peel's Festive Fifty at number 15 in 1979 and continued to feature through to 1982.
"Positive Vibration" 3:34
"Roots, Rock, Reggae" 3:38
"Johnny Was" 3:48
"Cry to Me" 2:36
"Want More" 4:17
"Crazy Baldhead" 3:12
"Who the Cap Fit" 4:43
"Night Shift" 3:11
"Rat Race" 2:54
"Jah Live" (Original Mix) 4:17
"Concrete" (B-side of Single) 4:24
"Roots, Rock, Reggae" (Unreleased Single Mix) 3:38
"Roots, Rock, Dub" (Unreleased Single Dub Mix) 3:38
"Want More" (Unreleased Alternate Album Mix) 5:10
"Crazy Baldhead" (Unreleased Alternate Album Mix) 3:08
"War" (Unreleased Alternate Album Mix) 4:03
"Johnny Was" (Unreleased Alternate Album Mix) 3:41