Louis and Joe Gatt, long time Marley fans who rescued the reels from destruction at the last minute said: ‘we received a call about a building refuse clearance that included some old discarded 2-inch tapes from the 1970s with ‘Bob Marley Live’ and other notes scribbled all over them. Being big Marley fans and Joe, who strangely enough, was in the audience at one of those historic Marley Lyceum dates as a youngster, we couldn’t let these sacred treasures, damaged or not, simply be destroyed as mere trash… so we told the clearance guy to take them off the truck’.
Jazz artist Louis Hoover, star of the West End and Broadway hit show THE RAT PACK is also a regular headliner at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and said ‘When Joe filled me in on the situation, I was speechless and actually stopped the car to check I’d heard him correctly. Then when I finally saw the labeling and footnotes on the tapes, I could not believe my eyes, but when I also saw how severely damaged the reels were, it was pretty gut wrenching as there was plasticized gunk oozing from almost every inch, so saving the music and sound quality of the recordings, looked pretty hopeless’.
Some of the tapes were marked ‘DAMAGED DO NOT PLAY’ others were labeled ‘DAMAGED IN CENTRE TRACKS, CANNOT REMOVE FROM SPOOL WITHOUT FURTHER DAMAGE BEING CAUSED TO BOTH TAPE AND MACHINE’ and one of the reels had scrawled across it in red pen; ‘No Woman No Cry, Kinky Reggae, Natty Dread. Reel #2 and dated 17/7/75 Lyceum London.’
Over the next few months, I asked around within the UK music industry about who could possibly bring these tapes ‘back to life’ and was pointed in the direction of a brilliant sound technician based in Weston-Super-Mare, England, called Martin Nichols. After very careful consideration we took the damaged tapes over to Martin at his studios and over a long period of time, almost two years, Martin painstakingly restored these musical treasures by hand, back to their former glory’.
Martin recalls: ‘when I first saw the tape reels, really I should have have said ‘no thank you guys’ as they were covered in mould and clearly suffered massive water damage. This was without doubt one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever tackled but was also a labour of love. If anyone had even tried to play the reels in that condition, all of the content would have been destroyed and lost forever’.
They were in such appalling condition you could understand why they’d been written off, but I spent hours upon hours, inch by inch, cleaning all the gunge off until they were ready for a professional audio process called ‘Baking’. The end result has really surprised me because, as they are now in digital format and very high quality, so it just goes to show that the original recordings were very professionally made.
Louis added ‘The tension and expectancy while Martin worked his magic over that long period was excruciating and it was essential we immediately transferred all the original analogue content, directly over to Digital Hard Drive for safe keeping and posterity, as these 24 track reels were never designed to last beyond a few hundred plays, only to make and mix master tapes from to then transfer onto vinyl records.
We will never forget when we finally listened to the end results. Martin wasn’t giving anything away on the phone, most probably because no words could have possibly prepared us for what we were about to hear…
We took our seats a bit nervously then when Martin finally pushed the faders up on the mixing desk, our jaws dropped as we were immediately transported back in time especially Joe as he’d actually been there in the Lyceum crowd on 18 July 1975 when he was just twenty-two – on a friend’s spare ticket and I was still at school..!!
The three of us were in the ‘resurrected’ presence of one of the most legendary musical geniuses, ever to grace our planet with his fabulous music and deeply held spiritual social outlook and were the first three people in 43 years, to hear this.
In the grass roots world of ‘T-Shirt-Global-Icon-Status’ Bob Marley is up there with The Beatles, Elvis, Che Guevara, Bob Dylan, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix and to many millions across the world, Bob Marley is at the very top of that list.
The fact we managed to get these long-lost recordings restored has been nothing short of a series of mini miracles and too uncanny for words at times really, almost as if guided from above.
There has now been huge interest in the Lost Recordings worldwide from fans and media, including from Island-Universal Records who are currently in discussions with us, in the hope Bob Marley’s millions of friends worldwide will finally hear these electrifying performances, as well.
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