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For the Rastafarian term, see Natty Dreadlocks.
Natty Dread
Studio album by Bob Marley & The Wailers
ReleasedOctober 25, 1974[1]
RecordedHarry J. Studios, Kingston, Jamaica, 1973
GenreReggae, R&B
LabelIsland/Tuff Gong
ProducerChris Blackwell and The Wailers
Bob Marley & The Wailers chronology
Rasta Revolution
Natty Dread

Natty Dread is a 1974 reggae album by Bob Marley & The Wailers. An important transition in Marley's discography, Natty Dread was the first album released as Bob Marley & the Wailers (as opposed to The Wailers) and the first recorded without former bandmates Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. It is also the first album recorded with the I-Threes, a female vocal trio that included Bob's wife, Rita Marley, along with Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt.

Natty Dread peaked at No. 44 on Billboard's (North America) Black Albums chart, and at No. 92 on the Pop Albums chart.


Natty Dread is a spiritually charged political and social statement. It opens with a blues-influenced positive celebration of skanking, reggae and sex, "Lively Up Yourself", which Marley used to open many of his concerts, in order to get the audience worked up; American R&B star Prince used it for the same purpose. The original and still unreleased demo of the Island version of "Lively up Yourself" was recorded in 1973. This was the last time all three original Wailers (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Neville "Bunny" Livingston) recorded together in a studio. This version featured each Wailer singing a verse each.

"No Woman, No Cry", the second track, is probably the best known recording on the album. It is a nostalgic remembrance of growing up in the impoverished streets of Trenchtown, the ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, and the happiness brought by the company of friends. The song has been performed by artists as diverse as Boney M. (sung by Liz Mitchell), The Fugees, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett, Rancid and Gilberto Gil. Songwriting credit for "No Woman, No Cry" went to V. Ford. Ford, better known as Tartar to his friends and neighbors, had been a kind friend of Marley as a child in Trenchtown. Marley claimed he would have starved to death on several occasions as a child if not for the aid of Tartar. The original version of the song was a gospel version of the song featuring Peter Tosh and some unknown female backing vocals and was cut for Island in 1973.

"Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" is a warning against allowing a nation's poor to go hungry, with the prophetic warning "a hungry mob is an angry mob", while "Talkin' Blues" and "Revolution" go deeper into controversial political commentary. "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)" is a reflection on the potential impact of reggae music on Jamaican society. The song was written after Marley had been stopped by a night-time police carcheck. The influence of Marley's increasing devotion to Rastafari can be heard in religious-themed songs like "So Jah S'eh", "Natty Dread" and "Lively Up Yourself", while Marley's reputation as a romantic is confirmed with smooth, seductive songs like "Bend Down Low". The title track of the album takes its title from an idealised personification of the Rastafari movement, Natty Dread.

Jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter covered the entire album is his 1997 release of the same name. In 1975, this album was mentioned in a few audio magazines as being ready to be released on Quadraphonic 8-track tape. This never happened. However, the Quadraphonic mixes of "Lively Up Yourself" and "No Woman No Cry" have been bootlegged from the master tapes and are available on the internet. In 2001, a re-mastered edition of Natty Dread was released by Universal Records containing a bonus track. In 2003, the album was ranked number 182 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2]

Song writing credits

Although the album's liner notes list multiple songwriters, including family friends and band members, all songs were written by Marley. Marley was involved in a contractual dispute 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.[3][4]

Marley had not wanted his new songs to be associated with Cayman and it had been speculated, including in his obituary in The Independent, that he had put them in the names of his close friends and family members as a means of avoiding the contractual restrictions and as a way to "provide lasting help to family and close friends".[3]

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 sided with the Marley estate, which assumed full control of the songs.[4]

Track listing

Side one

  1. "Lively Up Yourself" (Bob Marley) – 5:29
  2. "No Woman, No Cry" (Vincent Ford) – 4:06
  3. "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" (Lecon Cogill/Carlton Barrett) – 3:10
  4. "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)" (Aston Barrett/Hugh Peart) – 6:40

Side two

  1. "So Jah S'eh" (Rita Marley/Willy Francisco) – 4:25
  2. "Natty Dread" (Rita Marley/Allan Cole) – 3:33
  3. "Bend Down Low" (Bob Marley) – 3:10
  4. "Talkin' Blues" (Lecon Cogill/Carlton Barrett) – 4:06
  5. "Revolution" (Bob Marley) – 4:20



  1. "Bob Marley and the Wailers".
  2. Rolling Stone review
  3. 3.0 3.1 Leigh, Spencer. "Vincent Ford: Songwriter credited with composing 'No Woman, No Cry'", The Independent, January 7, 2009. Accessed January 7, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kenner, Rob. "Vincent Ford Dies at 68; Inspired Classic Bob Marley Songs", The New York Times, January 3, 2009. Accessed January 5, 2009.