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March 22, 2004 | by  | in Music |
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Toots and the Maytals :: True Love

This is a good album, but beware of the hype that surrounds its release. And I quote, “This exciting release of new material…” This is a lie… sort of. This album is a collection that accommodates new recordings of old songs. It’s not the first time it’s been done. think Tom Jones’ Reload album: a group of popular musicians team up with an old hero to rehash some old hits. Although this time, with the exception of Willie Nelson’s ‘Still is Still Moving,’ all the songs come courtesy of Toots and the Maytals back catalogue.

Toots Hibbert and his group are arguably the godfathers, if not the engineers, of popular reggae style. Credited with giving the genre its name with their 1968 single ‘Do the Reggay’, True Love sees the group team up with an A-list of musicians including Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, No Doubt, Ben Harper and Eric Clapton to name a few. Opener, Nelson’s ‘Still is Still Moving’ is a classic, and benefits from Toots’ warm, throaty vocals. ‘54-46 (That’s My Number),’ a lament courtesy of Toots’ period in jail, features the supplementary guitar work of Jeff Beck.

This album further demonstrates why such collaborations work, reggae being a sociable, jamming platform in which each song is open to reinterpretation. Listening to Keith Richards’ most recent vocal effort on the Stones, ‘Losing My Touch’ (Forty Licks 2002) anyone would be forgiven in thinking the man had lost his voice for good. Not true – sitting in the mix along side Toots in ‘Careless Ethiopians’, the song’s harmonies are brilliant. True Love will serve a purpose, not only as a feel-good album to remember summer this winter, but one to remember and rediscover a group who helped sculpt reggae music, in turn commanding respect from some of the best musicians in the world.

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