Stir It Up

Album: I Can See Clearly Now (1972)
Charted: 13 12
  • Texas-born singer-songwriter Johnny Nash released his final US hit as a follow-up to his signature tune "I Can See Clearly Now." Both singles were infused with the reggae sound he brought back from a 1967 trip to Jamaica, where he met up-and-comer Bob Marley. Not only was Marley an assistant producer on Nash's album, but he also contributed a handful of tunes, including "Stir It Up," a love song about stirring up desire that Marley wrote for his wife, Rita.

    Nash's version would become Marley's first hit outside of Jamaica, but he originally recorded it with his own group, The Wailers. After Nash's success, The Wailers recorded it again for their 1973 album, Catch a Fire.
  • In the UK, this was released as the first single, followed by the Nash-penned "I Can See Clearly Now."
  • On this track, Nash is backed by the reggae band the Fabulous Five Inc.
  • Marley explained in a 1973 Melody Maker interview that he never fully embraced Nash as a reggae artist. "He's a hard worker, but he didn't know my music. I don't want to put him down, but reggae isn't really his bag," he said. "We knew of Johnny Nash in Jamaica before he arrived, but we didn't love him that much: We appreciated him singing the kind of music he does - he was the first US artist to do reggae - but he isn't really our idol. That's Otis or James Brown or Pickett, the people who work it more hard."
  • A year before the album was released, Marley and Nash collaborated on the score for the Swedish film Vill så gärna tro, which cast Nash in a starring role - but things didn't go as planned, mainly because no one could find Marley. John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Nash's keyboardist and co-composer on the score, recalled in the liner notes for Marley's Songs of Freedom: "I really don't know what happened to Bob. All I do know is that his air ticket, Johnny's guitar, and Johnny's tape recorder all disappeared, along with Bob. Johnny never forgave him for taking his guitar. Bob disappeared as magically as he had arrived."

    Nash put his anger aside when "Stir It Up" became a hit, and invited Marley on a tour of the UK to promote the album.
  • Diana King covered this for the 1993 comedy Cool Runnings, about a Jamaican bobsled team competing in the Winter Olympics.

Comments: 1

  • Christopher from West VirginiaActually there were two versions of this song recorded by Nash. The first was the one used only on the single and is rougher and slightly more up-tempo. It recreates much better the Reggae feel. The second more common version is more mellow and sounds rather polished. I was once told that Nash recorded his first version in Jamaica and the second in New York but given the similarity in the instrumental tracks that is very hard to say with certainty.
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