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Monkey Man

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Album Review

For those reggae fans who took so quickly and proudly to Reggae Got Soul, Toots & the Maytals' 1976 debut for Island Records, these sides on Trojan may prove to be quite a shock. What is contained on this re-release of Monkey Man, the Maytals' true debut album from 1971, is just how raw and immediate the group's sound was. Having cut the first single that mentioned reggae music in 1968 with "Do the Reggay" and coming back with another winning single in "Sweet and Dandy" a year later, the Maytals before the Wailers were the first Jamaican band to distill soul and ska into something very different, something that would change music forever on the island. Here are 25 tracks that feature the original Monkey Man album delightfully remastered from studio tapes, plus 12 more cuts of rare 45 material, unreleased tracks, and alternate takes. Among the highlights on Monkey Man are "Peeping Tom," the deep Otis Redding-inflected "Gold and Silver," a delightfully bastardized version of "Give Peace a Chance," and the classic reggae scorcher c*m ska barnburner "Pressure Drop," made infamous by the Clash some seven years later. Of the bonus cuts, "Sweet and Dandy" in its original 7" version is included, as is the skanking "Johnny Coolman" and the terminal groover "Never You Change." This is highly recommended, no, necessary for any fan of early, authentic, un-smoothed-over roots reggae.


Formed: 1966

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The consummate vocal group, the Maytals are inextricably tied to Jamaica's musical history, and their long and prolific career has seen the group at the forefront of virtually every shift in musical direction up until the ragga era. Their influence has been so vast, both on their homeland and abroad, their canon of music so immense, that in many ways no band better represents the island's sound than their own. The Maytals formed in 1962, bringing together the vocal talents of Frederick "Toots" Hibbert,...
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Monkey Man, The Maytals
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