Bob Deep: The Wailers’ “Caution”

Words by Martei Korley—

Easily one of the most underrated Wailers tracks, “Caution” is also a stellar example of true rocksteady. Because of Marley’s stay in the US, where he temporarily worked driving forklifts at a plant, The Wailers ended up getting a late start in the rocksteady game. The song, which was actually penned by Bunny Wailer, chronicles the search, frisk and abuse he underwent before being locked up for a lengthy period on account of a single spliff on a rainy night in Kingston (“When it wet it slippery, when it damp yuh crampy”).

What really distinguishes the song is the impeccable way the Wailers (not yet known as Bob Marley and…) handle the vocal styling of the arrangement. The harmonies feature equally as powerful as the lead, falsettos soaring over a tightly wound riddim punctuated by Trinidadian rocksteady scion Lynn Taits’ insane guitar riff. The groove is so sophisticated that it has rarely been covered, with the exception of Aswad’s true blue rendition from 1999. Talk about music which doesn’t age—this track has no less of an impact, more than 40 years on…