“Sweet And Dandy” by Toots and The Maytals - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1969Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

The 5-year-old Maytals vocal trio were on top of their game in 1966 when “Bam Bam” was the inaugural winner of the Popular Song Competition at the Jamaica Independence Festival. They were household names, records were selling, the diary was full with invitations to perform all over the island and an overseas tour was planned. But then – from out of nowhere – it all came crashing down one day as they were on their way to a show in Ocho Rios, Jerry and Raleigh travelling on one motorcycle and Toots with the luggage on another. Hibbert: “A policeman kept trailing us from way back. He stopped Jerry and arrested him for carrying a pillion rider without a licence to do so.” The story goes that Toots had to leave his luggage at Linstead Police Station and ride back to Kingston, where he'd seek the help of their manager, Ronnie Nazrala, to bail his two friends. When Hibbert and Nazrala arrived at Linstead, the police claimed that marijuana had been found in Toots’ luggage and that he too would be arrested. “The arrest was a thing that was planned, but I didn't know about it until a policeman told me afterwards. A promoter planned it. They didn't want me to go to England and hit first. That act affected my career seriously because I was about to go on the biggest tour of my career.

He was incarcerated at Richmond Farm prison, Saint Mary parish, where he was to serve a sham 18 months sentence, guitar in hand as his sanity saver. After having served 8 months (just enough time for the tour to have passed without him he wryly reflected) he re-united with Jerry Matthias and Nathaniel Gordon and they began began working with the Chinese-Jamaican producer Leslie Kong, a collaboration which would, arguably, prove to be the most fruitful in the group’s career. By now, Rocksteady was all the rage, and Toots channelled his anger productively on “54-46 That's My Number” (subtly riding on the back of Ethiopians “Train To Skaville”), immediately getting his (and the groups) career back on track. Chest out and head high, this proclamation was loud and clear: he's not a number, he's a free man.

A steady string of hits followed, a great many of which were compiled here on “Sweet And Dandy”, the group’s first new long-player in 4 years; “Just Tell Me” (Beverley's SR-046), “We Shall Overcome” (Beverley's SR-049), “Scare Him” (Beverley's SR-064), “Alidina” (Beverley's SR-070) and “Sweet And Dandy / “Oh Yea” (Beverley's SR-078). In August ’69, the infectious “Sweet And Dandy” was, almost inevitably, the winner of the 4th annual Festival Song Competition. “One poun’ ten for de weddin’ cake, twenty bokkle of cola wine, all di people-dem dress up inna white, fi go h’eat off Johnson weddin’ cake”. After all the pre-wedding nerves it was sweet and dandy for Ettie and Johnson, and who doesn't love a happy ending?

Leading the way at the very beginning of the set are two of their very latest tunes, “Monkey Man” (Toots’ dis to a photogenically challenged love rival) and “Pressure Drop”, a supreme 45, which rumbles like a boss in the catalogue. Said Hibbert: “It’s a song about revenge, but in the form of karma: If you do bad things to innocent people, then bad things will happen to you. The title was a phrase I used to say. If someone done me wrong, rather than fight them like a warrior, I’d say: 'The pressure’s going to drop on you.'

The Beverly’s studio band, led by ace guitarist Linsford “Hux” Brown, were sheer dynamite in the late 60s; trailblazers for the glorious new reggae sound, a phenomenon sweeping the island. Toots the soul-man was the perfect front to take the sound international. Step aside jealous rivals.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:43] 10.0.png The Maytals - Monkey Man (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae
A2 [02:56] 9.8.png The Maytals - Pressure Drop (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae
A3 [04:03] 6.8.png Toots and The Maytals - I Shall Be Free (Frederick Hibbert) Soul Ballad
A4 [02:41] 6.9.png Toots and The Maytals - Bla, Bla, Bla (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae
A5 [02:22] 9.1.png The Maytals - Just Tell Me (Frederick Hibbert) Ska / Rocksteady
A6 [03:24] 6.5.png The Maytals - We Shall Overcome (Traditional) Reggae
B1 [02:59] 9.9.png The Maytals - Sweet And Dandy (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae
B2 [02:33] 7.5.png The Maytals - Scare Him (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae
B3 [02:28] 7.1.png The Maytals - Alidina (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae
B4 [03:09] 6.2.png Toots and The Maytals - I Need Your Love (Frederick Hibbert) Soul Ballad
B5 [03:26] 9.6.png The Maytals - 54-46 That’s My Number (Frederick Hibbert) Ska / Rocksteady
B6 [02:39] 7.3.png The Maytals - Oh Yea (Frederick Hibbert) Reggae

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