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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

TOOTS & THE MAYTALS

By Judson Kilpatrick
Published June 27, 2006

Trojan/Sanctuary

From the birth of ska to popularizing the term “reggae,” Frederick “Toots” Hibbert and his backup singers Nathaniel “Jerry” McCarthy and Henry “Raleigh” Gordon had an incalculably enormous impact on Jamaican music. This set gathers six of their first seven Jamaican releases in cardboard sleeves that reproduce the original album covers (their Studio One debut, Never Grow Old, is available separately from Heartbeat). The Sensational Maytals features the ska hits “It’s You” and “Never You Change,” but you can also clearly hear the influences of American soul on such gems as “Daddy.” Soon after this early success, Hibbert was arrested and served 18 months, an experience he recounts on one of his biggest hits, “54-46 That’s My Number.” Two other songs from that time, “Pressure Drop” and “Sweet And Dandy,” received international exposure when they were included on The Harder They Come soundtrack. And while Hibbert wrote all of the group’s original tunes, they also had success with jaunty versions of “Louie Louie” and “(Take Me Home) Country Roads.” Unfortunately, these 30-minute CDs do not contain any bonus singles like “Bam Bam” or “Do The Reggay.”