Peter Tosh

The Toughest [Heartbeat]

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The Toughest [Heartbeat] Review

by Richie Unterberger

Peter Tosh's roots were intertwined with Bob Marley's, and like Marley, his very earliest efforts had much more to do with ska than with the reggae popularized by the Wailers. That doesn't mean that Tosh's earliest work wasn't very enjoyable and accomplished, although his spiritual and political concerns had yet to surface. This is a near-complete, 19-song retrospective of his Studio One recordings, two-thirds of which were produced by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in the mid-'60s, with the remainder produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry at some later point. Exact source documentation is vague: some, if not all of the Dodd tracks were certainly Wailers discs, not Tosh solo outings (some appear on compilations of Bob Marley & the Wailers' '60s material). At any rate, the Dodd sides are good cuts in the ska vein, with some flashes of developing diversity and sophistication: the rock-influenced "Can't You See," "Rasta Shook Them Up" (the first Wailers tune to refer to Rastafarianism), and a cover of the Temptations' "Don't Look Back" (which Tosh would record as a duet with Mick Jagger in 1978). The Lee Perry material, from an uncertain vintage, is much more identifiable as reggae entering its prime. "Rightful Ruler" has an early appearance by U Roy, and a reverb-soaked version of "Downpresser," which Tosh would recut on his Equal Rights album, is the highlight of the disc.

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