April 13 marks the 47th anniversary of the release of Catch a Fire, the fifth studio studio album by Bob Marley and The Wailers. It was their first released under Chris Blackwell‘s label Island Records. After touring and recording in the UK with Johnny Nash they were left without enough money to return home to Jamaica. They approached Blackwell, who advanced the Wailers enough money for an album and return fares to Jamaica, where they recorded Catch a Fire.
The album’s title phrase, Catch A Fire, actually means “burn in Hell;” this marks the essential message of the song, “Slave Driver,” in which Bob Marley conveys clearly his negative attitude towards slavery and oppression. The album features nine songs, two of which were written and composed by Peter Tosh and the remaining seven of which were written and composed by Bob Marley.
The album’s tour throughout the UK and the US helped establish the band as international stars. Catch a Fire peaked at number 171 on the Billboard 200 and number 51 on the Billboard Black Albums charts. Critical acclaim has included the album being listed at number 126 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time, second only to Legend among five Bob Marley albums on the list. It is regarded as one of the top reggae albums of all time.