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In 1976, Bob Marley turned Haile Selassie the First's legendary1963 U.N. peace speech into his famous song War. Re-recorded with surviving members of Marley’s extraordinary band, the Wailers, this new version of the Bob Marley classic features H.I.M. Haile Selassie's original speech, as if he was posthumously “singing” this Bob Marley classic.
For the first time, the fascinating sound of Jah’s own voice can be heard on a reggae record. Bob Marley’s voice was also added on several mixes of this cultural one-rhythm album. A Rastafarian anthem in many sound systems and an underground hit in Jamaica and the UK. Other remarkable versions of this modern reggae classic are included here.
"WAR" - the speech...
On October 4, 1963, following the founding of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa a few weeks earlier in the presence of almost every African head of state, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie the First spoke at the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York City. In the fast changing world of the sixties, as many African nations were struggling for independence, Selassie's historic utterance carried the full weight of the OAU he had just founded in a masterful diplomatic operation, of panafricanism on the rise and, more generally, of all the oppressed people throughout the world, in the name of whom everyone felt he spoke.
Baptized Tafari Makonen, then given the rank of a Ras (equivalent of a Duke), he belonged to the oldest dynasty in the world, which, according to the ancient and sacred Ethiopian book the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings), was in power at least as far back as Menelik the First, son of Solomon, King of Israel, and Makeda, Queen of Sheba. The Ras Tafari’s coronation/sacrament in 1930 as Haile Selassie I ("Power of the Trinity") was seen by a small community of Jamaican Christians as the fullfilment of a Biblical prophecy that Marcus Garvey, who was struggling for Black emancipation, used frequently in his speeches.
These Christians recognized Selassie as the Divine leader refered to in the prophecy and henceforth later began calling themselves Rastafarians, as in Jah (one of many Hebrew names for God) Rastafari. This syncretic faith has since grown to millions of followers, from Blacks to half-castes, like Bob Marley, to people of all colours. As Selassie himself said at the United Nations, “until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes”, righteous Rastafarians will be struggling for equal rights and justice throughout the world. In his 45 years of reign, the mighty Lord of Lords sought to pull Ethiopia out of its feudal past and towards democracy. Many think of Selassie as the Nelson Mandela of his time. The Negus was also a key figure in the founding of the United Nations, where the utterance heard on this record was spoken in Amharic, the Ethiopian language.
Part of this legendary peace speech by Selassie, then at the zenith of his reign, was turned into the song War by Bob Marley who recorded it for his fine 1976 Rastaman Vibration album. Thus Rastafarians, and above all Bob Marley, are showing the way for mankind to finally recognize one of the most overlooked civilizations in history -that of Ethiopia. It is in this spirit that Bruno Blum produced this new version of War with surviving members of Marley’s extraordinary band, the Wailers, who can also be heard on the original recording of the song. Haile Selassie’s voice was then overdubbed on it, as if he was posthumously “singing” this Bob Marley song. For the first time, the sound of Jah’s own voice can be heard on a reggae record, and Bob Marley’s voice was also added in the mix
In the year of release of this album, mainly due to lack of political concern and knowledge, and in the absence of a fresh ideology fit for modern challenges, an unprecedented amount of atrocious wars is plaguing the planet earth. To the point that the period known as "globalization" of the world economy coincides with what could well be called World War Three. Proper democracy is overwhelmed by giant multi-national corporations controlling increasingly powerless states, and giving democracy a bad name. As Haile Selassie put it, "The basis of racial discrimination and colonialism has been economic, and it is with economic weapons that these evils have been and can be overcome."
But fuelled by ignorance, instead of contributing to a democratic uprising rid of private interest exploitation, and instead of trying to control the economy, the fears created by this merciless world-wide "liberal" system often turn into all kinds of absurd and useless nationalist reactions: ethnic, tribal, sexist, national, religious, and race nationalism.
At the time of release of
this album, those lousy nationalist wars, independance wars, tribal
and civil wars, religious integrism, racial and sexual oppression torture,
jail and kill millions of innocent children, women and men all over
the world. Among the African countries seriously hit by either racial,
religious or sexual discrimation, civil or nationalist war, hunger,
military coup, oppression or dictatorship, to name a few:
The musicians heard on this album all hope its message will contribute to ignorance fall back, human rights, consciousness and peace.
The WAR Album
“Peace. Ras Tafari is the
Prince Of Peace.”
1. BOB MARLEY introduces His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I 0:21
The introduction of this record was taken from Bob Marley's following quote:
In 1973, to the question
"can you explain to people exactly what it means to be a Rastafarian?"
Bob Marley had this to answer:
2. HAILE SELASSIE I featuring Bob Marley & the Wailers: War/Selassie Is The Chapel (virtual duet remix version) 6:25 The song War, originally released on the fine Bob Marley & the Wailers 1976 Rastaman Vibration album, was recorded again in 1996. Its lyrics were basically taken from Haile Selassie I's 1963 United Nations utterance. Selassie's original voice was overdubbed on the new recording, as if he was posthumously "singing" this Bob Marley song. On this special remix, an excerpt of the classic 1968 Bob Marley & the Wailers Rasta statement Selassie Is The Chapel is included, creating the ultimate Rastafarian anthem, a virtual duet between Organization of African Unity (OAU) founder Haile Selassie I and Bob Marley, featuring Rita Marley and Peter Tosh on backing vocals. Around 1700 copies of the original Rastafari Records vinyl single ( RAS O2) of this recording were sold, reaching the number one spot in U.K. Magazine Echoes' 'Roots & Culture' reggae charts in the spring of 1998.
3. BUFFALO BILL: War (Jamaican version-Buffalo Bill sings 'War') 4:13 Buffalo Bill, a Rastafarian singer from Kingston, Jamaica, was raised in Bob Marley's ghetto neighborhood of Trench Town. He has remained close to the Marley Family ever since. His unmistakable voice can be heard here on his 1999 version of the Bob Marley classic, sung over the new hit rhythm.
4. WAILERS BAND Peace (full length dub version) 5:49 The first three minutes of this dub version were released in 1998 as the B-side of the Haile Selassie I War Rastafari Records vinyl single (RAS O1). Surviving original members of the Wailers, such as bass and piano player Family Man Barrett and organist Earl "Wire" Lindo, who played on the original Bob Marley & the Wailers version of War, can be heard on all the versions included on this album. The renowned Jamaican drummer Mikey Boo (one of the famous Upsetters) had recorded with the original Wailers trio (Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston and Bob Marley) for the Best Of The Wailers album back in 1970. But Mikey was replaced by Family Man's brother, Carlton, soon after. Sadly, Carlton Barrett was shot in 1987, and until the summer of 1997 he was in turn replaced by "Mikey Boo" Richards, who plays on this album.
5. BRUNO BLUM : War (English version) 5:45 Bruno Blum, a singer, guitar player and writer from Paris, France, plays and sings backing vocals on this album, which he also produced. Blum originally felt that the astounding content of Haile Selassie I's utterance would lose much of its power if only released in its original Amharic version, as many don't understand the official Ethiopian language. It was therefore decided to attempt recording an English version of the War speech, keeping in mind that Haile Selassie I, who spoke English very well, had learnt it from British teachers. Also, as Bob Marley had only used a small translated portion of the original utterance, in his great song he had left out the powerful, uplifting end of the text. On this rendition, the speech is restored all the way up to its final vibrant original conclusion. This English version had quite an impact on Jamaican ears in Kingston, and proved effective enough to be released as the B-side of the original 1997 War single (see next track).
6. HAILE SELASSIE I War (full length foundation Amharic version) 10:35 The very first original vinyl single of War by Haile Selassie I was released in Jamaica on Bruno Blum's Human Race label. Only three hundred pre-release copies were manufactured at the time in the blazing December 1997 heat of Kingston's Dynamic Sounds plant. War was welcomed by several Rastafarian 'cultural' sound systems in Jamaica and the U.K.; It was also played on Jamaica's Irie FM reggae radio right away, instantly creating a buzz among Rastafarians all around the island. But both the Human Race single and the 1998 Rastafari Records vinyl reissue (RAS O1) only lasted around three minutes. The ten-minute-long full length original mix of the recording, featuring the last part of the speech, not to mention samples of Bob Marley's spoken voice, is presented here for the first time.
7. BUFFALO BILL Warmongers (Buffalo Bill sings 'Warmongers') 4:03 On Ascension Day, May 13, 1999, Buffalo Bill voiced his own version of War (see track 3), as well as this inspired self-penned new single in Yves Calvez's Paris Coronado studio. Both tracks were issued in December 1999 as a Rastafari Records vinyl single (RAS 03). Buffalo Bill draws a parallel between the tribal wars going on at the time in Congo, Yugoslavia, Gaza and Rema (a.k.a. the east end of Trench Town, near the gloomy Kingston Remand Center prison).
8. BRUNO BLUM Guerre (French version) 5:19 Following the successful 1997 release of an English rendition of theWar utterance (see track 5), it became obvious to French speaking Bruno Blum that a French version, voiced at AB studios in 1998, could do no harm to try spreading the message (including in West Africa where French is still very much in use). The nearby strategic French port of Djibouti, from where you could take the only train to Addis Ababa for decades, has brought a lot of French culture into Ethiopia. In fact Haile Selassie I and his son the Crown Prince Asfa Wassen spoke French fluently. In 2000, following a demand by King Selassie I Sound System's Senegalese DJ Dread Nah Fall, a dub plate of Guerre was successfully tested on the French speaking crowd of Espace Masséna in Paris. Nah Fall then insisted that this previously unreleased version should be made available to the millions of French speaking people around the world.
9. WAILERS BAND featuring Bob Marley & the Wailers: War/Selassie In Dub 7:10 A previously unreleased fine full length dub remix of track 2. Although originally cut much shorter, the first half of this dub was originally released as the B-side of a 1998 Rastafari Records vinyl single (RAS O2).
10. WAILERS BAND War Dub
3:22 Previously unreleased mix, complete with war soundtrack.
Haile Selassie I: lead vocals Bob Marley: vocals Peter Tosh & Rita Marley: backing vocals on 2 & 9 Earl "Wire" Lindo: organ Aston "Family Man" Barrett: bass, electric piano Michael "Mikey Boo" Richards: drums Bruno Blum: lead & rhythm guitar, backing vocals, dub remix, lead vocals on 5 & 8 Buffalo Bill: lead vocals on 3 & 7 Tatiana Prus: backing vocals Norbert "Nono" Nobour: afuche, tambourine, bongo, bell
Thanks to Haile Selassie I, Bob Marley, Family Man, Roger Steffens, Tania, Nono, Dan Occo, Jim Marshall, Yves Calvez, Jean-Michel Fava, Pierre Mestcherinoff, Julie "Blunty" Vermeulen, RASTAFUSION, Suzie Börjesson, Dread Nah Fall, Ras Latef and all at King Selassie I Sound System.
The WAR Album “Peace. Ras Tafari is the Prince Of Peace.” -Bob Marley, 1973
1. BOB MARLEY introduces
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I 0:21
Haile Selassie I: lead vocals
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