TJR presents… Top 10: Toots and The Maytals

TJR presents… Top 10: Toots and The Maytals

– Sweet and dandy JA soul power all the way with Toots’ joyful brand of Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae & Mento.
  • Runtime: 30m.
  • Compiled from 114 collection entries @ 15-Sep-2020.
  • Fantasy Album Rating: 9.40 “A masterpiece”
  • To access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png

Monkey Man by The Maytals (1969)
(Frederick Hibbert)

10.0 “All-time classic” Reggae
TJR saysIs she really going out with him? On a wickedly hypnotic riddim, Toots’ dis to a photogenically challenged love rival almost inevitably gave the Maytals a huge #1 hit at home, and even scraped into the Top 50 of the British Pop Charts in the springtime of 1970, their only single to do so. They were on their way to outernational belovement.

Sweet And Dandy by The Maytals (1969)
(Frederick Hibbert)

9.9 “All-time classic” Reggae
TJR saysThe Beverly’s studio band, led by ace guitarist Linsford “Hux” Brown, were sheer dynamite in the late 60s; trailblazers for the new reggae sound. “Sweet And Dandy” was the latest in a long line of smash hits for team Maytals and, in August ’69, 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?

Pressure Drop by The Maytals (1969)
(Frederick Hibbert)

9.8 “All-time classic” Reggae
TJR saysThis supreme 45, released in 1969, rumbles like a boss in the catalogue, with a message that carries great universal appeal. Its inclusion in the acclaimed movie/sountrack “The Harder They Come” played a big part in winning them an American fanbase. 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.'

54-46 That’s My Number by The Maytals (1967)
(Frederick Hibbert)

9.6 “All-time classic” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysRocksteady was all the rage when Toots was released from prison in 1967, after having served 8 months of a sham 18 month sentence for the possession of marijuana. He channelled his anger productively on “54-46 That's My Number” (subtly riding on the back of the Ethiopians big hit of the day, “Train To Skaville”), immediately getting his career back on track. He's not a number, he's a free man.

Pomps And Pride by Toots and The Maytals (1972)
(Frederick Hibbert)

9.4 “Classic” Reggae
TJR saysLeslie Kong died from a heart attack in 1971, and a period of uncertainty followed for those in his camp. Warwick Lyn stepped up to the mark, became manager and producer, and the hit machine was soon back in full working order. “Pomps And Pride” gave them another massive hit on home soil, crossing over uptown from downtown and scooping the accolade of most popular song at Festival '72, their third such recognition in seven years. It's the 45 / Slatyam Stoot 3 minute original (1972) for the purists or the 4½ minutes Funky Kingston version (1973) for the tourists ; - )

Bim Today (Bam Tomorrow) by The Maytals (1968)
(Frederick Hibbert)

9.3 “Classic” Reggae
TJR says1968 was a hugely significant year for Jamaican music - reggae was born! There was hot competition for the most popular song that year, with this magnificent entry just losing out to Desmond Dekker's “Intensified '68”. The little island of big tunes was spoiling everyone back then.

Dog War by Toots and The Maytals with Prince Buster and The All Stars (1964)
(Frederick Hibbert, Cecil Campbell)

9.2 “Classic” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysDepending on where or when you picked up your copy of this fizzbomb, it was titled “Dog War”, “Broadway Jungle”, “Jamaica Dog SkaWar” or “School Days” and was billed to range of attractive permutations including Prince Buster, The All Stars, The Maytals, The Flames or The Vikings. Weirdly, the chaotic nature of the piece seems to suit the shady licensing back story that would put Arthur Daley to shame. What's not up for dispute is that the Maytals trio of Toots Hibbert, Jerry Matthias and Henry Gordon are front, left and right of the fevered vocals, yips and yelps which make the tune so unforgetable… in whatever guise the label says.

Just Tell Me by The Maytals (1968)
(Frederick Hibbert)

9.1 “Classic” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysClassic rocksteady business, just one of NINE terrific single sides which graced the excellent “Sweet and Dandy” long-player which, for me, represented the wailing trio at their zenith.

I’ll Never Grow Old by The Maytals (1963)
(Clement Seymour Dodd, Frederick Hibbert)

9.0 “Classic” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysProduced by Sir Coxsone Dodd, with the immaculate (soon-to-be named) Skatalites laying down the celebratory bed, a Jamaican gospel of sorts, peppered with cool and steady horns, handclaps and glorious harmonies. The vocal interplay is a sheer joy, and you don't even mind the nonsensical theory that they will never grow old as long as they continue their search for the lord's eternal kingdom. I don't know about that, but this still sounds great to me, 57 years on.

Great Jehovah by Blue Glaze Mento Band featuring Toots Hibbert (2011)
(Vernal Morgan)

8.7 “Excellent” Caribbean
TJR saysI picked up a Blue Glaze Mento Band CD when I travelled to Jamaica in the mid 00s and it's a treasured possession, so it was with great interest that I picked up their 2011 release, “We Will Wait”, which featured guest vocals from old skool legends Toots Hibbert, Stranger Cole & Bunny Wailer. On “Great Jehovah”, vocal duties are shared between Toots and Vernal Morgan, the song's writer. Spirituality was never too far away in Hibbert's catalogue, especially in the very early years. It is said that Jamaica has the most churches per capita, and that Gospel is often as close as your back door, so it's little wonder.

TJR presents… Top 10: Toots and The Maytals (via Spotify)

  • Runtime: 29m.
  • To access shuffle-play or overcome other issues with the embed application, it might be best playing directly via Spotify external-link.png

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