A batch of Bob Marley live recordings that had laid dormant and damaged in a London hotel for nearly 40 years have been rediscovered and restored.
The 13 analog, reel-to-reel tapes – which documented four of the reggae legend’s London and Paris concerts from 1974 to 1978 – were recovered by Joe Gatt, who obtained the recordings after a friend found them in a cardboard box within London’s rundown Kensal Rise hotel where Marley stayed in the Seventies.
“He was doing a building refuse clearance that included some discarded two-inch tapes from the 1970s. I couldn’t just stand by and let these objects, damaged or not, be destroyed so I asked him not to throw them away,” Gatt told the Guardian.
The recordings, which were made using the Rolling Stones’ 24-track Mobile Studio, were severely water damaged and believed to be irreparable. However, sound technician Martin Nichols managed to restore the recordings to the point where the sound quality was described to “send shivers down one’s spine.”
It’s unclear what Gatt has planned for the restored tapes. However, some of the live recordings are already readily available: Marley’s gig at London’s Lyceum in 1975 was released that year as Live!; a deluxe edition of that live album packed with two complete Lyceum shows was released last December.
Another concert found among the lost tapes, a gig at London’s Rainbow in 1977, appeared as part on the deluxe edition of Exodus in 2001.
In 2016, Yep Roc Records reissued The Wailing Wailers – the 1965 Studio One LP featuring Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer – following a long stretch out of print. In recent years, the Marley family announced a massive reissue project dedicated to the reggae legend’s catalog.