The Wailers are a group from Jamaica who have been influenced as much by white rock & roll and, apparently, country and western, as the Encino aristocrats have been influenced by the blues. The result is a blend: Lilting tunes of hypnotic character headed by super-progressive lead guitar work, Motown variations, and cowboy nuances, all backed by the tricky Jamaican beat that serves to keep the decibel level in a moderate range, thereby forcing the audience to be seduced by the charms of the music, rather than overwhelmed by the relentless force of most rock.
The result is a mature, fully realized sound with a beautiful lyric sensibility that turns well known stylistics into fresh, vibrant music. The reggae beat has the capacity to lend direction to the Wailers’ music, and force limits on their sound. But it is not a mere gimmick, although it could develop into one should it become the rage. It is a valid impression of American mainstream rock and blues, altered with the originality that can only come from a fresh viewpoint.
“Concrete Jungle” is graced with guitar straight out of the first flush of Kaukonen’s early work. “400 Years” and “Stir It Up” are the soft and hard edges of their range, which is natural, and never strains for effect. As a group, the Wailers show remarkable polish on record, and personal appearances should prove most interesting to watch. They display fantastic breadth in what would seem to be a restrictive format. But then, isn’t that what was always so great about rock & roll?