The Maytals – From The Roots
- Pee Pee Cluck Cluck
- Loving Spirit
- Dr. Lester
- Gold Silver
- Koo Koo
- Revival Reggae
- Thy Kingdom Come
- One Eye Enos
- A Time To Love
- 9 O’clock
- Know Me Good
- Got To Feel
- Feel So Good
- Give Peace A Chance
Toots Hibbert, Henry “Raleigh” Gordon, and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias were the founders of The Maytals in 1962. For producer Coxsone Dodd they recorded several hit tunes such as Hallelujah, Six And Seven Books Of Moses and Never Grow Old. They switched to Prince Buster for whom they charted with the party crasher Dog War. The trio won the first-ever Jamaican Independence Festival Popular Song Competition with Bam Bam, the tune versioned by Sister Nancy as well as Yellowman in the dancehall days.
Toots & The Maytals
The group’s success came to a halt when Toots had to serve time in prison for possession of marijuana. Once released they started working with producer Leslie Kong and soon released the classic hit tune 54-46 That’s My Number based on Toots’ prison time. For several of Leslie Kong’s imprints, they recorded a bunch of classics such as Pressure Drop, Monkey Man, Water Melon, Bim Today and Sweet And Dandy. He also compiled a few LP’s: Monkey Man, From The Roots and a Greatest Hits LP.
After Leslie Kong tragically passed away they moved on to work with the producer’s former sound engineer, Warrick Lyn. In 1972, the group changed its name from The Maytals to Toots and the Maytals, with “Toots” referring to frontman Toots Hibbert, and “the Maytals” referring to the group’s instrumentalists and background vocalists.
They switched to Chris Blackwell’s Island label and launched an international career. After the group split up in 1981 Toots Hibbert continued to record as a solo artist throughout the 1980s. In the 1990s a new line up was formed and they took up recording and touring with considerable success.
The raucous voice of Toots has been an intrinsic part of the development of Jamaican music, from ska to reggae. His records were instantly recognizable as he carried a powerful, characteristic soulful voice and a performance reminiscent of a soulman like the late Otis Redding. The music of Toots & The Maytals was always something special as it incorporated elements of ska/reggae, funk, soul and gospel. No wonder they hold the current record of number one hits in Jamaica, with a total of thirty-one.
Music On Vinyl
In 1973 Trojan finally released From The Roots, following the success the group enjoyed after they had signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records. Though it was a collection of tunes that were recorded in 1969/1970 and did not include any of their hit singles, the LP sounds remarkably fresh and still showcases The Maytals’ superior musical qualities led by the soulful voice of Toots. At the beginning of 2020 Music On Vinyl puts out a proper re-release, a limited edition of 750 individually numbered copies on orange colored vinyl.
The Dutch vinyl only (high quality 180g LP’s and 7# pressings) reissue label has already earned respect in the reggae scene with superb vinyl reissues of classic albums. Check out Bob Andy’s 1978 album Lots Of Love And I, Duke Reid’s rocksteady album Here Comes The Duke, Gregory Isaacs Out Deh!, The Heptones 1976 set Night Food and Desmond Dekker’s 007 (Shanty Town). Further interesting sets are Lee Perry’s Scratch The Upsetter Again and Blackheart Man by Bunny Wailer.
From The Roots
As said before, the album is a great collection of tunes the group had recorded with Leslie Kong around 1969/1970. Ska and rocksteady days were bygone and (early) reggae was the in-thing. There are no well-known hit tunes on this 14 track set, but the album as a whole is an invitation to get up on your feet and start the party! Probably the album sounded a little outdated when it was released in 1973, but now it’s truly a joy spinning these tunes once more. Listening carefully makes one realize what an underrated album this was. There are many ‘Best Of’ compilations around, but to our surprise hardly with a song from this record on any of them.
Riddim is the word here, firing off with the wild dance tune Pee Pee Cluck Cluck. The dance craze continues with tunes like One Eye Enos, Know Me Good, Dr. Lester, Revival Reggae and Feel So Good. There are songs with a distinctive gospel influence. Check Thy Kingdom Come, Loving Spirit and Gold Silver. The theme of love is also present here on songs like Got To Feel and the awesome Kook Koo. Even the hippie anthem Give Peace A Chance is reconstructed to the fullest with positive results!