Toots & the Maytals

Monkey Man

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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.

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