Toots and The Maytals – In The Dark
- Got To Be There
- In The Dark
- Having A Party
- Time Tough
- I See You
- Take A Look In The Mirror
- Take Me Home Country Roads
- Love Gonna Walk Out On Me
- 54-46 Was My Number
- Sailing On
Toots Hibbert, Henry ‘Raleigh’ Gordon, and Nathaniel ‘Jerry’ Mathias formed The Maytals as a vocal trio in 1962. They recorded a slew of successful singles for producer Coxsone Dodd such as Hallelujah, Six And Seven Books Of Moses and Never Grow Old. Leaving Dodd’s Studio One they started recording several producers, scoring with tunes like Dog War -a classic in the ska genre- and 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. After Leslie Kong tragically passed away, The Maytals 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.
During that decade, their output was more than prolific with albums like From The Roots and Monkey Man. The year 1973 saw the release of the Funky Kingston set. A year later the follow up arrived, In The Dark. 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. At the end of the decade the put out Pass The Pipe and they entered the 1980s with they live album Toots Live.
After the group split up Toots Hibbert continued to record as a solo artist throughout the 1980s, but he formed a new line up in the 1990s. Most of his albums sold very well, True Love, an album of re-recorded versions of their earlier hits featuring collabs with Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, The Roots, 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. He still keeps touring with considerable success.
The raucous voice of Toots has been an intrinsic part of the development of Jamaican music, from ska to reggae. Like soul artists such as James Brown, Toots has rhythm flowing through his veins, and combined with his musical adrenalin, people worldwide flock to see him perform. His music blends 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
The 1974 LP In The Dark is now re-released by Music On Vinyl. This well known Dutch reissue label (vinyl only!) has already released several Toots & The Maytals albums. Check Reggae Got Soul, From The Roots, Pass The Pipe, and Funky Kingston.
In The Dark
The set was the second LP that Chris Blackwell pushed to the international market. First, he issued Funky Kingston, then In The Dark and one year later he repackaged the two albums for a US release, aimed to introduce the group to a wider international audience. With a spiritual undertone and positive energy, From The Dark sounds more polished then previous albums such as From The Roots and Monkey Man. Lyrically, the opening track Got To Be There is undiluted gospel: “Got to be there, Just to answer to your name when the roll is called for your fate”. But there’s also room for a social commentary song like Time Tough: “I’ve got four hundred/month rent to pay, And I can’t find a job”. Outstanding song!
There’s an interesting cover version of John Denver’s world-wide country hit Take Me Home Country Roads. Toot’s solid version replaces ‘West Virginia’ with ‘West Jamaica’ in the lyrics. The inclusion of the late 1960s hit tune 54-46 Was My Number was a strong selling point. For the soul ballad fans, there’s Take A Look In The Mirror, not our cup of tea. The semi-autobiographical Having a Party is a soul-fueled track, the balladesque I See You sees Toots inna romantic mood. Fever vibrates with soul (listen to the horns) and funky grooves, a typical Toots & The Maytals dance tune! The album closer Sailing On is an obligate handclappin’ sing-a-long crossover song.