Toots & The Maytals Pressure Drop: The Definitive Collection

If ever there was a Jamaican artist that deserved a box set, Toots Hibbert is it. But this two-disc compilation is a good start, and its mix of early tracks will please long-time Maytals’ fans, while its balance of well known material will serve as an excellent introduction for the uninitiated. The earliest songs here, from 1964, may be scratchy but the band is smoking and Toots is firing on all cylinders, something he has almost never ceased to do. Tracks such as "Daddy” and the later "Funky Kingston” demonstrate the band’s fascination with American soul and R&B, "Country Roads” is an early example of the cross pollination of country and reggae and the standards: "Monkey Man,” "54 46,” "Pressure Drop” and "Sweet and Dandy” never become tired. Toots’s marriage of Jamaican folk and gospel give the majority of the tracks an earthy and churchy workingman’s feel — a sound that the Maytals successfully carried from ska into reggae. This compilation has a few weaknesses though: there is nothing from the Coxsone Dodd period (1963), many of the Maytals’ strongest latter career tracks are absent and, while almost all of Funky Kingston is represented, only the title track from one of the band’s best albums — Reggae Got Soul — is here. For these reasons Island’s Time Tough compilation is probably a safer bet if you’re looking for a concise and definitive career retrospective. (Trojan)