Similar artists



World - Released January 1, 2003 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
In the Dark is a ska/reggae classic that captures the Maytals in their prime, brimming with energy. In the group's music, the positive vibrations of reggae and the deep soul of singer Frederick "Toots" Hibbert are united and elevated by a pervasive spirituality. Exuding warmth and goodwill, Toots & the Maytals seek to excise their sorrows through joyful celebration and praise. "Got to Be There" sets the mood perfectly with its jubilant roll call into heaven. Hibbert's religious concerns are equally strong on "In the Dark," a song directed at those lacking belief. But he continually succeeds in reaching across lines of strict faith. The emotions in the Maytals' music always defy such boundaries. Similarly, this soulful reggae blend has the power to communicate to diverse musical tastes, reggae converts and unbelievers alike. "I'm from Jamaica/I want to do my Jamaican stuff," sings Toots, inviting everyone to watch and listen. Backing him is a formidable rhythmic force, capable of luring anyone out onto the dancefloor. At times, the grooves are so dense with reggae's characteristic syncopation that rhythms seem to spring forth from multiple directions. "Time Tough" layers organ stabs, chopping reggae rhythms, and tight, coiled guitar lines along with call and response vocals. In the Dark's classic status may be assured from three songs alone: signature numbers "54-46 Was My Number," "Time Tough," and the Maytals' rendition of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" (which sounds like it was written for Hibbert to sing). But the Maytals hit the mark with every song on this collection. Like the best of the blues, gospel, and soul, they turn struggle into strength. When Hibbert sings "I'm so lonely/I'm so blue" on "In the Dark," he makes the emotions seem truly addictive; if the blues felt as good as they sound here, people would be lining up to get their dose. ~ Nathan Bush

Reggae - Released August 19, 2016 | Trojan Records

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
For those reggae fans who took so quickly and proudly to Reggae Got Soul, Toots & the Maytals' 1976 debut for Island Records, these sides on Trojan may prove to be quite a shock. What is contained on this re-release of Monkey Man, the Maytals' true debut album from 1971, is just how raw and immediate the group's sound was. Having cut the first single that mentioned reggae music in 1968 with "Do the Reggay," and coming back with another winning single in "Sweet and Dandy" a year later, the Maytals before the Wailers were the first Jamaican band to distill soul and ska into something very different, something that would change music forever on the island. Among the highlights on Monkey Man are "Peeping Tom," the deep Otis Redding-inflected "Gold and Silver," a delightfully bastardized version of "Give Peace a Chance," and the classic reggae scorcher cum ska barnburner "Pressure Drop," made infamous by the Clash some seven years later. This is highly recommended, no, necessary for any fan of early, authentic, unsmoothed-over roots reggae. ~ Thom Jurek

Reggae - Released January 1, 2004 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

That Toots Hibbert's voice, drenched in Memphis soul and rooted in Jamaican gospel, is still a powerful instrument after four decades of performing is the first thing you notice while listening to this collection of duets with pop, rock and reggae artists. The second thing you notice is that this album isn't really very good, which is unfortunate, since this release will probably get more media attention than any other album he's been involved in, and hopefully that attention, at least, will lead listeners to check out Toots' earlier work. It's difficult to put a finger on the problem here, since the recordings feature a great, full sound, and Toots sings like he always has, but things just don't click. Sometimes it's just the duet pairings, which is the case with the lead track, which features Toots and Willie Nelson on Nelson's "Still Is Still Moving to Me." While it's interesting to ponder how much ganja was smoked before this tune got tracked, in the end, Willie and Toots together just sound odd, and the song never manages to work its way past that. Eric Clapton's wah-wah lead on "Pressure Drop" is just plain distracting, and while Jeff Beck fares somewhat better with his guitar work on "54-46 Was My Number," the fact remains that classic roots reggae rarely featured any lead guitar at all, and if the guitarists here (Trey Anastasio also gives it a try on "Sweet and Dandy") were trying for a kind of gospel call and response with Hibbert's voice, well, it doesn't work. There are some tracks that do manage to catch a little fire here, although they tend to come late in the sequence. "Funky Kingston," featuring Bootsy Collins and the Roots, retains the loose, loopy groove of the original Maytals version, probably because, from Bootsy's opening invocation of "are you ready for some Toots, Roots and Boots," nobody seems to take things too seriously, making this cut the only one on True Love that might be able to hook the urban hip-hop crowd. Keith Richards manages not to sound too ravished on "Careless Ethiopians," while Ben Harper and Hibbert effectively ride an atmospheric, slow-burning arrangement of "Love Gonna Walk Out on Me" to emotional fulfillment, but as a rule, aside from Toots' amazing voice, not much is going on here underneath all the fanfare. Check out the early Maytals' material and you'll hear immediately why this album of collaborations falls short. ~ Steve Leggett

World - Released January 1, 1996 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

With a group as prolific as the Maytals, led by a singer whose career is as long-running as Toots Hibbert's, few compilations will come away unscathed by fans and critics alike, least of all those that purport to be something more than a simple best-of collection. Time Tough: The Anthology is no exception, for even with two discs and 41 tracks the set can only scratch the surface of Toots & the Maytals' canon. The biggest complaint comes straight off the bat, with a mere five songs dedicated to the ska years. During this era, the Maytals unleashed a flood of fabulous singles, with their last, 1966's "Bam Bam," winning Jamaica's annual Festival Song Competition. Five tracks gives awfully short shrift to this instrumental early period in the band's career. Much to fans' regret, Toots Hibbert's incarceration for drug possession saw the group sidelined during the rocksteady era, but they returned with a ferocity as the reggae era began. Under the aegis of producer Leslie Kong, the trio were unstoppable, sending a deluge of stellar singles into the chart, of which ten of the best are gathered up here. Kong's death in 1971 barely slowed the group's output, while a deal with Island Records saw international release for their crucial Funky Kingston, In the Dark, and Reggae Got Soul albums, whose tracks fill much of the rest of disc one. The first half of disc two follows the group until its demise (they took their final bow together at Reggae Sunsplash in 1982), with the rest of the tracks selectively following Hibbert's solo career down to 1988. Thus, the compilation does provide an adequate overview, but weighted as it is toward the Kong and then the Island years, not necessarily a fair one. Still, most fans will be happy with the results, especially as the compilation includes a clutch of previously unissued songs. It still remains by far the most thorough collection available. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

Reggae - Released January 1, 1990 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Toots & the Maytals' first LP for Chris Blackwell was originally released in the early '70s, and it includes solid sides like "Pomp and Pride," a whacked-out restructuring of Richard Berry's "Louie, Louie," and the wonderful title track, "Funky Kingston." Blackwell reissued a bulked-up version of Funky Kingston in the mid-'70s on his Mango subsidiary, adding in the immortal "Pressure Drop," the brilliant "Time Tough," and a reimagining of John Denver's "Country Roads" (simply called "Country Road"), to make a much better and stronger set. ~ Steve Leggett

Reggae - Released March 1, 1973 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)


Reggae - Released March 1, 2017 | Trojan Records


Ska & Rocksteady - Released March 28, 2006 | Charly Records


Pop/Rock - Released October 30, 2012 | Metropolis Group


Pop - Released January 1, 1976 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

3 stars out of 5 - "...bears a Memphis-styled rasp in the horn parts and falsetto outbursts from the band leader....a breezy sunlit affair that reaches its twin peaks with the funky 'Premature' and the sublime gospel of 'I Shall Sing'."

Reggae - Released January 1, 2002 | Universal Music


Reggae - Released October 1, 2010 | Cleopatra Records


World - Released January 1, 1973 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)


Pop - Released January 1, 1984 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)


World - Released January 1, 1981 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)


Reggae - Released September 13, 2016 | DM Digital


Reggae - Released December 25, 2017 | Resurfaced Records


Reggae - Released September 1, 2016 | Trojan Records


Reggae - Released March 15, 2016 | Passage Productions


Reggae - Released March 30, 2009 | VP Records

Like so many of Jamaica's greatest groups, the Maytals launched their career at Studio One, and then like so many that found fame, the group then switched its allegiance, first making the studio rounds, before spending a spell with Prince Buster. Before 1964 was out, however, the trio had linked with Byron Lee for whom it recorded its first Jamaican chart-topper, "It's You." That hit was finally pushed off the top of the charts by the single's flip side, the soulful, doo wop ballad "Daddy." By the time the Maytals released their second single, the skanking "Fever," all of Jamaica was infected, and from there on out the hits rained down. The gospel-inflected jubilance of "Never You Change," its polar thematic opposite, the adamant "If You Act This Way," and the exuberantly goofy "My New Name" all rocketed up the Jamaican chart. The trio's exhilarating gospel-flavored vocals suited any style, be it the sweet blues of "It's No Use," the jazzy brass-drenched "What's on Your Mind," the fabulous R&B found on "I Know," which also boasts a superb solo from guitarist Ernest Ranglin, the mento that inspires "She Will Never Let Me Down," and, of course, the many propulsive ska numbers. So strong were these singles that before 1965 had drawn to a close, an impatient Lee bundled up a batch and pressed them onto a full-length, appropriately titling the set The Sensational Maytals. The group certainly was sensational, and although many more hits were still to come, this album was the perfect portrait of the group at its ska height. ~ Jo-Ann Greene