Maytals ‘The Sensational Maytals’ (VP) 5/5

Toots Hibbert is one of the institutions and founding blocks of Jamaican popular music, singing for over forty years, and this welcome re-issue provides us with an opportunity to take in his early ska offerings reocrded at Federal studios. This was in fact the Maytals’ second album following on from ‘Never grow old’ for Coxsone at Studio One and is a delight from start to finish. Soulful is a word that aptly describes the music on this album and ‘Love is a special feeling’ gets proceedings off to a storming start with its catchy groove. Minor key ska is to the fore on ‘It’s you’ which unsurprisingly was issued as a 45 and features the distinctive group harmonies. Uplifting melodies abound on ‘You make me feel the way you do’ with lovely trumpet while the influence of deep southern US soul is felt on ‘It’s no use’. There is no lessening of quality on the generous six bonus tracks and of these ‘When I laugh’ impresses. Percussive drumming on ‘Bam Bam’ rounds off a milestone album in the evolution of reggae. Detailed sleeve notes courtesy of Steve Barrow and original cover photos make for an indispensable re-release. Tim Stenhouse

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