Reviews Zone

The Maytals: Monkey Man / From The Roots (Doctor Bird) 13th July 2018





5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)




Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert is better known as “Toots”, and with his iconic band The Maytals, is part of music history – still going strong at 75-years-old.

In fact, the good news is: Toots and the Maytals are back in the UK for a full tour this Autumn.

Before that they headline a special one night only gig inside Alexandra Palace in London. The September 8th party, also features The Beat with Dave Wakeling, Lee Scratch Perry, Pama International, Don Letts and Trojan Sound System with former Specials member Neville Staple.

The UK tour in October offers 11 opportunities to catch Toots and the legendary band in action, kicking off with a show in Birmingham on 10th October and closing the tour in Frome, Somerset on 27th.

Even more good news for fans of this man and his music; the Doctor Bird record label has just dropped the re-issue of two of the best-selling reggae albums of all time on one CD. The Maytals, “Monkey Man” and “From The Roots”. Plus some bonus stuff, including two tracks new to CD.

Led by the dynamic Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, the Maytals were at the vanguard of the reggae explosion of late 1969/early 1970, with their anthemic “Monkey Man” among Trojan Records’ earliest UK chart successes. The likes of Amy Winehouse and The Clash among many artists covering that song.

Soon after their breakthrough single breached the UK pop charts in 1970, the iconic reggae record company issued the LP of the same title, featuring a dozen of the trio’s most popular recordings of the past six months, including “Pressure Drop”.

The Maytals remained one of Jamaica’s leading acts over the years that followed, with their popularity resulting in a recording deal with Island Records in 1973.

There swiftly followed extensive tours of the UK and mainland Europe, prompting Trojan to gather a dozen or so of their earlier works for a belated follow-up to their “Monkey Man” LP, called “From The Roots”.

Both albums feature on this essential reggae collection, which also includes three rare alternate versions of album tracks: “Monkey Man” and “She’s My Scorcher” both of which make their CD debut, plus “African Doctor”. 25 tracks in total on this one disc set.

The legendary Jamaican singer and songwriter was out of action for up to two years with serious injuries, after he was hit in the head with a Vodka bottle, thrown from the crowd onto the stage as Toots and the Maytals performed as part of a festival in the US in May 2013.

Film footage captured the moment and police were able to identify the culprit and arrest him.  The man was charged with malicious wounding, but he pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Amazingly, Toots Hibbert wrote to the judge in the case, pleading in a letter not to jail him. But the judge sentenced the man to a six-month sentence. It was a long road to recovery for Toots, but he got back on the road and began touring internationally again.

A five-time Grammy nominee, Toots & The Maytals won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Reggae album with “True Love”. The album featured re-recorded classic hits alongside popular and legendary artists, including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, No Doubt, Ben Harper, The Roots and Shaggy.

Toots and the Maytals were last here in May 2017, on arena shows with The Specials. If you have never seen them live before, grab a ticket.  If you have, pretty sure you have one already.

Timeless tracks, killer vocals after all these years, killer band and one of the best nights of live music you will have this year. Fact!


By Simon Redley





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