wed 21/10/2020

Album: Toots & the Maytals - Got to be Tough | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Toots & the Maytals - Got to be Tough

Album: Toots & the Maytals - Got to be Tough

Toots back on fine form in what has become his final album

Toots: as tough as ever

Toots Hibbert may have invented the term “reggae” with his 1968 hit “Do the Reggay” but he has never felt boxed in by the genre.

Toots Hibbert may have invented the term “reggae” with his 1968 hit “Do the Reggay” but he has never felt boxed in by the genre. During his almost 60-year singing career, he may have recorded some of the greatest ska and reggae tunes of all time, from “Monkey Man” to “Pressure Drop” and “54-46, That’s My Number”, but has also dipped his toe into soul music and even tried his hand at a version of John Denver’s “Country Roads”. Got to be Tough is similarly a fine musical stew that takes from all quarters, never sags and is heavily flavoured with socially conscious lyrics throughout.

Things kick off with the swampy blues of “Drop Off Head” with fellow reggae superstar Sly Dunbar and New Orleans funk legend Cyril Neville’s shuffling groove, before ploughing into the up-tempo, funky soul of “Just Brutal”, which has more than a sniff of Otis Redding at his most energetic. “Warning Warning” has a skanking reggae groove that is aimed directly at the dancefloor and emphatically hits its mark, while a cover of “Three Little Birds” has Toots trading lines with Ziggy Marley for a dynamic re-tread of his dad’s classic that seriously pumps things up. In fact, there’s not one duff track on Got to be Tough – and that is especially impressive, given that it’s the Maytals’ 22nd studio album.

For a 77-year-old, in fact for a singer of any age, Toots Hibbert has got a mighty set of lungs on this album and his song writing is still top notch. So it was particularly sad to hear that Toots died last night in the intensive care unit of a Jamaican hospital with suspected Covid-19. This is a massive loss of a true musical innovator and Got to be Tough is an impressive swansong for such a musical giant.

It's a fine musical stew that takes from all quarters, never sags and is heavily flavoured with socially conscious lyrics

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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