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Reggae - Released August 28, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Ten years after his last studio album, Flip and Twist, Toots Hibbert returns with a feast of reggae, but he doesn’t stop there. For the leader of the Maytals and author of the classics Do the Reggay, Funky Kingston and the hit 54-46 who has been through every era of Jamaican music since the ska and rocksteady of the 60’s, reggae has never just been a substrate. Unlike most of his colleagues in Kingston, Toots didn’t commit himself to pure Rasta reggae in the 70’s. Although he often talks about God (Jamaica is one of the countries with the most churches per capita), he is not musically sectarian and he proves this once again on this record, accompanied by Sly Dunbar on drums – somebody whose music is a metaphor for open-mindedness. Influences from funk, blues, soul and even country are scattered throughout Got To Be Tough's ten richly orchestrated tracks, even if Toots’ voice is probably better suited to stripped-down tracks, such as Stand Accused, where he sings a skank in minor. The big sell is obviously the track featuring Ziggy Marley on a cover of his father’s Three Little Birds. This cover uses a much lively arrangement, a ska rhythm carried by a distorted electric guitar, which ends up sounding very English. Once again, Toots does reggae for those who don’t just like reggae. And this is undoubtedly the reason for his success. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz

Reggae - Released January 1, 1973 | 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 /TiVo

Reggae - Released May 6, 2016 | Trojan Records


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

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 /TiVo

World - Released April 25, 2000 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

For those who don't want or can't afford to plonk out for the Toots & the Maytals' Time Tough: The Anthology, The Very Best Of provides the perfect solution, distilling down that two-CD, 41-track set to a single 19-song disc. There are a few subtle differences, however; for starters this set boasts two different versions of the band's reggae smash "54-46, That's My Number," as well as the original ska version of their Jamaican Song Festival winner "Bam Bam," unlike the anthology, which included only a later remodel. However, the "Never You Change" found on this set is not the trio's original ska hit, but a reggae-fied remake. The rest of the album pulls directly from the anthology, with the disc divided almost evenly between the trio and a solo Hibbert's pre- and post-Island career. Thus, for those who prefer the Maytals' ska and/or reggae hits, this is not the collection for you, as there are much better compilations of those periods. But for fans looking for a larger overview of both the band and Hibbert himself, this is an excellent place to start. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo

Pop - Released October 30, 2012 | Metropolis Group


Reggae - Released June 12, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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

Pop/Rock - Released April 6, 2004 | V2

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 /TiVo

Reggae - Released July 7, 1984 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)


Reggae - Released June 18, 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 /TiVo

Reggae - Released August 6, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC


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 /TiVo

Reggae - Released January 1, 1969 | Trojan Records


Reggae - Released January 1, 2011 | Cleopatra Records


Reggae - Released March 28, 2006 | Charly Records


Reggae - Released January 1, 1973 | Trojan Records

From the Roots was Toots & the Maytals' fourth album, released by Trojan following the group's signing to Island Records in 1973. The record was cobbled together from odds and ends of tracks recorded between 1969 and 1970 for Leslie Kong's Beverley's label, and while it doesn't contain any of the more famous Kong-produced cuts ("Pressure Drop," "Sweet and Dandy"), it still exhibits the Maytals' trademark Jamaican version of gospelfervor, led by lead singer Toots Hibbert's barn-burning vocal style. Arguably this album, along with its Kong-produced predecessor, 1970's Monkey Man, contains the best and most explosive tracks in the Maytals' discography, and compilations that reshuffle the two albums in different combinations are common in the record bins. © Steve Leggett /TiVo

Reggae - Released September 16, 2020 | Charly Digital


World - Released January 1, 2001 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Toots & the Maytals' edition of 20th Century Masters is a very good summation of the group's greatest songs and therefore, their very importance. This doesn't have every great song they've ever done, and is not as comprehensive as other overviews assembled, but as a budget-line collection, it's first-rate, containing nearly everything a casual fan could want, including "Funky Kingston," "54-46 Was My Number," "Pressure Drop," and "Monkey Man." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Reggae - Released January 1, 2012 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Toots Hibbert is Jamaica's Otis Redding, and with his raspy, soulful, gospel-fueled singing, he's been a riveting performer for nearly 50 years now. The original incarnation of Toots & the Maytals (Toots, Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias, and Raleigh Gordon) parted ways in 1981, but they managed between the years 1964 and 1974 to assemble one of the most highly charged and distinctive bodies of work in the history of Jamaican music. Led by Toots' Kingston-by-way-of-Memphis lead vocals and the ragged call-and-response background singing of Matthias and Gordon, the trio created gospel-fueled reggae classics like "54-46 Was My Number," "Monkey Man," "Funky Kingston," "Time Tough," and the immortal "Pressure Drop," all of which carried the stomp and wallop of the best and most enduring soul music of the day. Toots continued to tour and record with various configurations as Toots & the Maytals, and he has to this day, which is only fair. He was the voice. This set, a live performance from 1991 in New Orleans, proves the point. With a full band and backup singers, and before an enthusiastic audience, Hibbert runs through all of his hits, and by the closer, "54-46 Was My Number," it feels like a secular reggae gospel concert. That's Toots, with or without Maytals. © Steve Leggett /TiVo

Reggae - Released October 26, 1990 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Among his landmark releases, this album wasn't quite as magnificent as Funky Kingston, but still contained plenty of explosive numbers and Otis Redding-influenced leads from Toots Hibbert. © Ron Wynn /TiVo