Anatomy of a Bob Marley multitrack

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Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, and a music and technical consultant

Here’s another multitrack from one of Bob Marley’s most popular songs, “Lively Up Yourself.” The song was the first song on Marley’s seminal “Natty Dread” album, and was the first by Marley without his former Wailer bandmates.

1) The first thing you hear is the horn section, which is doubled on two tracks. The horns sound particularly tight and together.

2) Bob’s lead vocals consist of two passes on different tracks, with the harmony background vocals of I-Threes doubled on two tracks.

3) The drums are interesting in that they’re on three tracks consisting of kick, snare, and high-hat (instead of overhead). Listen to the intricate high-hat work, which is unusual for a reggae song.

4) The guitars consist of standard reggae layering on three tracks – one providing the rhythm backbeat “chucks,” the second doing fills in between the lead vocal phrases, and the third doubling the bass.

5) The keyboards are interesting. The organ plays a form of the standard reggae “bubbling” with the bass line doubled on the left hand (bubbling normally requires both hands). The piano outlines the chords on beat 2 with the left hand while doubling the bass line with the right hand, which is very unusual.

6) Once again, the entire song was recorded on only 15 tracks!

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