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Toots and The Maytals|Got To Be Tough  (Until The Ribbon Breaks Re-Imagination)

Got To Be Tough (Until The Ribbon Breaks Re-Imagination)

Toots & The Maytals

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Toots Hibbert was was of the greatest singers in reggae even before the music had a name (or he knew how to spell it), and as brilliant as his tough, passionately expressive vocals were, it was also the unstoppable grooves of his songs that made Toots & the Maytals' albums like Funky Kingston and Reggae Got Soul enduring classics. While Hibbert can still raise the roof as a singer, the flaw of most of his 21st century output has been the failure of his collaborators to come up with a band that hits as hard as the man truly deserves. (There has been no steady lineup of Maytals since the original group split in 1981.) For a welcome change, 2020's Got to Be Tough doesn't treat Hibbert like a fragile museum piece to be handled with excessive care. Instead, this set pairs him with a studio band that can generate a rhythm, some with real force and authority, and Hibbert answers in kind. Despite being 77 years old, Toots remains a force of nature when he sings, and when these tracks turn up the heat, he lets loose with a gritty, soul-satisfying wail that confirms, now as then, that he's as compelling a singer as the islands have ever produced. Some tracks barely qualify as reggae -- such as the hard R&B of "Just Brutal" and the slinky soul of "Good Thing That You Called" -- though that doesn't seem to mean so much to Hibbert as the fact that they prompt him to step up and sing with the authority he can still command, and that compensates for the lack of old school vibes. (And with Sly Dunbar and Cyril Neville among the session players, finding a righteous sound is never much of an issue.) As a lyricist, this isn't one of Hibbert's finest hours; "Education, it's a must/School children has to take their bus" is among the cringe-worthy stanzas, and he has a lot of nerve calling "Three Little Birds" an original, even if Ziggy Marley stops by to give his blessings and add a guest vocal. Singing, however, is always what Toots has done best, and Got to Be Tough confirms that he takes a back seat to no one when he steps up to the mike, and its arrival is a joyous occasion.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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Got To Be Tough (Until The Ribbon Breaks Re-Imagination)

Toots and The Maytals

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1
Got To Be Tough (Until The Ribbon Breaks Re-Imagination) Explicit
00:03:26

Frederick Hibbert, Composer - David Sardy, Engineer - Gavin Lurssen, Engineer - Sly Dunbar, Drums - Youth, Producer - Toots & The Maytals, MainArtist - Cyril Neville, Percussion - DELROY POTTINGER, Engineer - Toots And The Maytals, Keyboards - Zak Starkey, Producer, Guitar - Nigel Burrell, Producer, Engineer, Drum Programmer - Until The Ribbon Breaks, Remixer - Max Noise, Engineer - Michael Rendall, Engineer - Tomas Crow, Engineer - Frederick Toots Hibbert, Producer, Guitar, Bass

© 2021 Trojan Jamaica, Ltd under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2021 Trojan Jamaica, Ltd under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Album Description

Toots Hibbert was was of the greatest singers in reggae even before the music had a name (or he knew how to spell it), and as brilliant as his tough, passionately expressive vocals were, it was also the unstoppable grooves of his songs that made Toots & the Maytals' albums like Funky Kingston and Reggae Got Soul enduring classics. While Hibbert can still raise the roof as a singer, the flaw of most of his 21st century output has been the failure of his collaborators to come up with a band that hits as hard as the man truly deserves. (There has been no steady lineup of Maytals since the original group split in 1981.) For a welcome change, 2020's Got to Be Tough doesn't treat Hibbert like a fragile museum piece to be handled with excessive care. Instead, this set pairs him with a studio band that can generate a rhythm, some with real force and authority, and Hibbert answers in kind. Despite being 77 years old, Toots remains a force of nature when he sings, and when these tracks turn up the heat, he lets loose with a gritty, soul-satisfying wail that confirms, now as then, that he's as compelling a singer as the islands have ever produced. Some tracks barely qualify as reggae -- such as the hard R&B of "Just Brutal" and the slinky soul of "Good Thing That You Called" -- though that doesn't seem to mean so much to Hibbert as the fact that they prompt him to step up and sing with the authority he can still command, and that compensates for the lack of old school vibes. (And with Sly Dunbar and Cyril Neville among the session players, finding a righteous sound is never much of an issue.) As a lyricist, this isn't one of Hibbert's finest hours; "Education, it's a must/School children has to take their bus" is among the cringe-worthy stanzas, and he has a lot of nerve calling "Three Little Birds" an original, even if Ziggy Marley stops by to give his blessings and add a guest vocal. Singing, however, is always what Toots has done best, and Got to Be Tough confirms that he takes a back seat to no one when he steps up to the mike, and its arrival is a joyous occasion.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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