Music today starts with Toots Hibbert, charismatic lead singer of Toots And The Maytals. He died last Friday leaving behind the legend and along with Bob Marley and others the legacy of turning Reggae music into an international sensation. Hibbert’s 1968 song “Do The Reggay” is widely credited as the genesis of the genre name reggae. I always struggled to find a Reggae scene outside England, there were catchy commercial Reggae bands in Sweden and Germany and some Reggae inspired acts in Australia but not the scene like here. (You could, of course, include the innovative Dread Zeppelin in the US but I’m not sure they qualify.) I lived in Ladbroke Grove in London for a few years and Reggae was part of the musical furniture. It didn’t just affect the Jamaican community, it was taken on board by British groups especially in the Punk era – The Specials and The Selector, UB40 and The Beat as well as the more Punk orientated bands like The Clash and The Ruts and instead of cultures clashing it was a bringing together with infectious beats, political statements and a whole cultural identity. Although the constitution in Jamaica still allows imprisonment for same-sex unions (but not for women), what does that say? They don’t accept gay people and sexual prejudice continues to be rife. It seems that this attitude isn’t unique to Jamaica despite relatively recent changes in the law (homosexuality was illegal in the UK till 1968). I suppose we can avoid the openly hostile homophobia of Buju Banton (allegedly he had a change of heart) but today openly hostile seems to have been legitimised. The ignorant never learn or as Love and Rockets said on the song No New Tale To Tell from Earth, Sun, Moon (1987):
“You cannot go against nature
Because when you do
Go against nature
It’s part of nature too”
Neville O’Reilly Livingston’s (Bunny Wailer) second album Protest was released in 1977. An original member of the Wailers but unlike the first album Blackheart Man none of the original band play on Protest although there is a version of the Marley/Tosh song Get Up, Stand Up. Famed bassist Robbie Shakespeare plays on the album. For me what I call the straight Reggae albums aren’t the thing, it’s the Dub Reggae that I like the most apart from the Marley classics, Gregory Isaacs, Peter Tosh, haha wait a minute, I feel a list coming on of albums I really like anyway. So, in fact, there’s all kinds of Reggae records I like.
Despite the legends of the Toots and Bunny, my highlight album of the night so far has been Legalize It, the debut album by Winston Hubert McIntosh (Peter Tosh) released in 1976. Two songs were co-written with Bunny Wailer and one with Bob Marley. Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were original Wailers members and when they left in 1974 due to a conflict over where they played as members of the Rastafari religion, that’s when Bob Marley And The Wailers were named, the last album as The Wailers was Burnin’ although a version of The Wailers reformed after Marley’s death. Both drummer Carlton Barrett and Peter Tosh were murdered in Jamaica. Discovering Reggae is a rabbit hole and you may find yourself on a deep and long journey down it but you could start with a classic, The Wailers’ Catch A Fire. It’s hard with Reggae because Reggae fans don’t seem to listen to anything else and the style seems to be off the radar of non-Reggae fans but remember, quality always wins whatever the genre. I went to Jamaica once, but that’s another story.
Songs Of The Daze
Peter Tosh with The Revolutionaries, live at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Recorded 07/16/1979.
Peter Tosh (lead vocal & percussions)
Sly “drumbar” Dunbar (drums)
Robbie Shakespeare (bass guitar)
Darryl Thompson (lead guitar)
Mickey Chung (riddim guitar)
Robbie Lynn (keyboard & organ)
Keith Sterling (keyboard & organ)
The Tamlins – Carlton Smith, Derrick Lara & Junior Moore (background vocals & percussions)
The musical musings in this post are an excerpt from my daily blog, TO WHERE I AM NOW, featured on my main website. See more pictures and read the full post here.