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TOOTS & THE MAYTALS - TRUE LOVE - V2 RECORDS/TIMES MUSIC
Record Rating: ****

Toots & The Maytals - True Love Mention reggae music to anybody and the first name out of their mouths is Bob Marley And The Wailers. But if there's a #2 slot, then it belongs to another Jamaican as well - Frederick "Toots" Hibbert - and his band the Maytals. If you're probably wondering who this guy is - the rumour goes that the legendary Chris Blackwell only signed Bob Marley and The Wailers because he couldn't get Toots & The Maytals.

For in the sixties they were the first group to use the word 'reggae' in a song title and also one of the bands that changed reggae music as well. And after all these years, the band returns with front man Toots as well - and it seems to be sounding good! True Love is actually nothing more than a new 'Best Of' compilation…but it's a compilation with a twist. For Toots Hibbert and the boys are joined by a diverse host of talent intent on celebrating the band's rich musical heritage.

Not many singers can get the likes of Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, and Jeff Beck to sing with in their career, let alone one album. But on True Love they all make an appearance. The who's who of guests doesn't end there - for on the seventeen tracks other big names like Shaggy, Ryan Adams and even No Doubt turn up and sound like they are having a hoot with Toots. Toots was able to pull such big names because of how much reverence all the musicians have for him. Plus reggae icons Bunny Wailer and Marcia Griffiths seem to show the respect they have for Toots and his band by turning up on the album as well. The real highlight here is Pressure Drop, on which the legendary Eric Clapton contributes a subtle blues fuzz guitar riff that adds to the raw energy of the original without upstaging its simple catchiness.

And several other guests seem to be following his lead with their high fidelity interpretations. Sure classics like Sweet & Dandy and 56-46 Was My Number sound pleasantly good reworked upon - but the original versions from the sixties still are the real deal! New comers to Toot's music, who are planning to buy this album, should also get a compilation of the originals songs as well. So be sure to do that.

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