Album: Toots and the Maytals

Light Your Light (Concord)
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The Independent Culture

Now in the 45th year of his musical career, Toots Hibbert remains not just an effervescent performer, but both an originator and an innovator whose work has inspired and extended the reggae form. Take the opening couple of tracks here, new versions of "Johnny Coolman" and the under-age-sex warning "Premature", collaborations respectively with slide guitarists Derek Trucks and Bonnie Raitt, the former's relaxed bluesy shuffle in marked contrast to the latter's itchy reggae-scratch groove. Or, indeed, his cover of the Otis Redding standard "Pain in My Heart", an apt choice given Toots's status as the Jamaican equivalent of Otis. It's a lovely performance, although the rock-steady rhythm lacks the dark soul of the original Stax groove; more congruent is a reading of "I Gotta Woman", which transfers perfectly to the reggae rhythm. Elsewhere, refurbished reminiscences of the Jamaican music business are featured alongside new material delivered in light, acoustic-guitar-based, arrangements that showcase Toots's soulful vocals to maximum effect.

Download this: 'I Gotta Woman', 'Pain in My Heart', 'Premature', 'See the Light'