Toots & The Maytals – Reggae Got Soul
- Rasta Man
- So Bad
- Six And Seven Books
- I Shall Sing
- Reggae Got Soul
- Everybody Needs Lovin
- Living In The Ghetto
- True Love Is Hard To Find
- Never You Change
Toots Hibbert, Henry “Raleigh” Gordon, and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias formed The Maytals as a vocal trio in 1962. After a successful stint with Coxsone Dodd, they started recording for Prince Buster. The energetic song Dog War is a classic in the ska genre. In 1966 the group switched to Byron Lee. The Maytals won the first-ever Jamaican Independence Festival Popular Song Competition with Bam Bam. With producer Leslie Kong they scored with classics such as 54-46 That’s My Number based on Toots’ prison experiences, Pressure Drop, Monkey Man, Water Melon, Bim Today and Sweet And Dandy. In 1971 Leslie Kong tragically passed away and The Maytals moved on to work with the former sound engineer, Warrick Lyn. In 1972, the group changed its name from The Maytals to Toots and the Maytals.
The year 1973 saw the release of the Funky Kingston set. Following the release of the album Reggae Got Soul they toured as the opening act for the Who during their 1975–76 North American tour. In 1978–80 during the reggae punk and ska revival period in the UK, their songs experienced a resurgence of popularity. In 1981 the crossover album Knock Out was released and the group split up. Toots Hibbert continued to record as a solo artist throughout the 1980s.
A new line up was formed in the 1990s and they took up recording and touring, releasing a worthwhile live album Live At Red Rocks. True Love, an album of re-recorded versions of their earlier hits featuring collabs with Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Shaggy, and others, won the 2004 Grammy Award for best reggae album. In 2011 the documentary Reggae Got Soul: The Story of Toots and the Maytals was released. Toots keeps touring and in 2018 they launched a 50th Anniversary tour with concert appearances in North America and the UK.
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
Reggae Got Soul was the tenth album, released in July 1976 by Island Records. March 2020 sees the vinyl only re-issue by Music On 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 The Melodians’ album Rivers Of Babylon, The Uniques rocksteady album Absolutely The Uniques!, Gregory Isaacs Out Deh!, Bunny Wailer’s 1980 set Sings The Wailers and Ini Kamoze’s’ Statement. Further interesting sets are Lee Perry’s Scratch The Upsetter Again and Jezebel Justin Hinds & The Dominoes.
Reggae Got Soul
The 10 track album is once again a set filled with quality slices from an experienced group of backing musicians and one of the household names of Jamaican music in the 1960s en 70s. The line up of musicians includes seasoned Jamaican names like Jackie Jackson on bass, guitarist Hux Brown and names like Winston Wright, Pablo Black, Gladstone Anderson, Bobby Ellis, Rico, and Tommy McCook. Interesting is the addition of Steve Winwood! Production credits go to veteran and long time companion Warrick Lyn and pop producer Joe Boyd. He is known for his work with Pink Floyd, Maria Muldaur, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny to name but a few. Island Records boss Chris Blackwell was responsible for producing the title track, a crossover song about the irresistible beat of reggae music. During their 1976 European tour, they arrived in London, learning that the title track was in the pop charts!
Toots included two of his early hits on this set. Both were ska hits in the 1960s. First, we have the gospel-esque scorcher Six And Seven Books, the do-over slows down the tempo which sounds pretty good! The other one is Never You Change. This was also one of his top tunes from the ska era. There certainly is a vocal resemblance to Van Morrison, the Northern Irish singer-songwriter. On this LP Toots covers Van’s marvelous song I Shall Sing. The album has stood the test of time very well. Proof are the highlights like the opener Rasta Man and Living In The Ghetto, they don’t fail to make a more than solid impression. Another song that keeps lingering in one’s mind is So Bad.