Toots & the Maytals


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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.

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