Natty Dread is the seventh album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, released in 1974. Previously Marley had recorded with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer as the Wailers, and this was his first record without them.[3]

Natty Dread
Studio album by
Released25 October 1974
StudioHarry J. Studios, Kingston, Jamaica
LabelIsland/Tuff Gong
ProducerChris Blackwell and the Wailers
Bob Marley and the Wailers chronology
Rasta Revolution
Natty Dread

Natty Dread was most popularly received in the UK, where it peaked at No. 43 and sold in excess of 100,000 copies, making it a gold album. Over time it gained popularity in other parts of the world, and in 2003 it was ranked No. 181 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[4]



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". The original and still unreleased demo of the Island version of "Lively Up Yourself" was recorded in 1973.

"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. Vincent 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 in gospel style, 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.

Songwriting 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", 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.[5][6]

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".[5]

Marley's 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.[6]



Natty Dread was released 25 October 1974 by Island and Tuff Gong.[7]

In 1975, this album was mentioned in a few audio magazines as being ready to be released on Quadraphonic 8-track tape.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

In 2001, a re-mastered edition of Natty Dread was released by Universal Records containing a bonus track.

Reception and legacy

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
Christgau's Record GuideA[8]
Rolling Stone     [9]
Select     [10]

Released in the US in May 1975, the album reached the top half of the Billboard 200 at No. 92. When it was released in the UK in October 1975, it did even better, reaching No. 43.[11]

In 2003, the album was ranked No. 181 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[9] maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list.[12] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[13]

Track listing


Original album (1974)

Side one
1."Lively Up Yourself"Bob Marley5:11
2."No Woman, No Cry"Vincent Ford3:46
3."Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)"Leon Cogill, Carlton Barrett3:13
4."Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)"Aston Barrett, Hugh Peart6:45
Side two
5."So Jah Seh"Rita Marley, Willy Francisco4:27
6."Natty Dread"Rita Marley, Allen Cole3:35
7."Bend Down Low"Bob Marley3:21
8."Talkin' Blues"Leon Cogill, Carlton Barrett4:06
9."Revolution"Bob Marley4:23
The Definitive Remastered edition (2001)
10."Am-A-Do" (bonus track)Bob Marley3:20


Bob Marley and the Wailers




  1. ^ a b Allmusic review
  2. ^ Reinhardt, Max (2005). "Bob Marley And The Wailers - Natty Dread". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Cassell Illustrated. p. 334.
  3. ^ Sinclair, Davis (25 October 2023). "Bob Marley & The Wailers – Natty Dread". UDiscoverMusic. Archived from the original on 5 August 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  4. ^ "#181 Natty Dread". Rolling Stone. 1 November 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b Leigh, Spencer. "Vincent Ford: Songwriter credited with composing 'No Woman, No Cry'", The Independent, 7 January 2009. Accessed 7 January 2009.
  6. ^ a b Kenner, Rob. "Vincent Ford Dies at 68; Inspired Classic Bob Marley Songs", The New York Times, 3 January 2009. Accessed 5 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Bob Marley and the Wailers". Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 4 March 2019 – via
  9. ^ a b "Rolling Stone review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  10. ^ Cook, Richard (September 1990). "Return of the Saint". Select. No. 3. p. 101.
  11. ^ "Bob Marley Steps Up With 'Natty Dread'". 25 October 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  12. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  13. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  14. ^ Credits