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June 17, 1980 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1980-06-17

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Page 8-Tuesday, June 17, 1980-The Michigan Doily
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and.beyond

0

By MICHAEL KREMEN
Upon release of their first recordings,
back in 1962, The Maytals took Jamaica
by storm, immediately establishing
themselves as one of the definitive
vocal groups on the island.
New evidence, in the form of a
stirring live performance this past
Saturday night at Pine Knob and an ex-
cellent LP, Just Like That (Mango
MLPS 9590), suggests that nearly two
decades later, Toots and the Maytals
(as they're now billed) are continuing
to create dynamic, exciting music.

ENCOURAGED BY the enormous
success that the "Two-Tone" ska-rock
bands are presently enjoying, The
Maytals and their backing musicians
have come full circle and are, once
again, making use of the faster-than-
.reggae ska-beat, which they had
originally helped to popularize in the
early 1960's. Toots is now able to perform
material from the earlier part of his
career without seeming to be indulging
in nostalgia, like some Oldies group.
The first three songs that were per-
formed during Saturday's show are

probably the groups most familiar to
American audiences, "Pressure
Drop", "Funky Kingston" and Toots'
interpretation of John Denver's "Coun-
try Roads" (the substitution of West
Jamaica for West Virginia still
provokes a chuckle).
During "Funky Kingston", which
was played at a much faster pace than
the recorded version, the band locked
into a powerful groove which was main-
tained for most of the set. The rhythm
was supple and powerful like a sling-
shot, maintaining the essential, slightly

snycopated feel even when playing at a
breakneck tempo.
"Get Up, Stand Up" (not The
Wailers' song of the same title) from
last year's Pass the Pipe provided one
of the few solo instrumental spaces. In-
troduced by a slightly psychedelic
sounding electric piano, after one vocal
chorus we were treated to a well con-
structed, extended guitar solo that was
also in the psychedelic mode. For the
most part, the substantial strength of
the band was demonstrated well in
their ensemble playing. This band is
tight and funky enough to please James
Brown. With due respect to new bands
like The Specials, The Selector and
Madness, they would simply be over-
matched if they had to play on the same
stage as these Kingston studio veterans
who comprise the Maytals' tour band.
TOOTS, ABLE TO take his in-
strumental backing for granted, was
free to improvise and work the audien-
ce like the classic, Gospel-influenced
soul singer that he is. Although Toots
cited American vocalists like Jackie
Wilson, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles as
early influences, it is the spirit and feel
of Otis Redding that Toots evokes in his
performance. Compare Tooots'
phrasing in "Funky Kingston" or
"Chatty Chatty" from the new LP with
Otis' rendition of "Can't Turn You
Loose" and you'll make the connection.
The title of the final song Saturday
night made explicit what the audience
was previously, at least subliminally
aware of, "Reggae Got Soul". Toots
spent a good ten minutes darting up the
aisles, fully exciting the crowd as he
personally greeted half of the audience.
When the song ended, it felt like a
regligious service and had just been
completed. Toots created an intimate
communion with an audience of several
thousand people. It was a very powerful
and beautiful feeling.
The eclectic Jamaican band, Third
World, was scheduled to play next. One
didn't envy them that opportunity.
ARE YOU LETTING
. CLASSES GET TO
YOu?
RELAX
Take a 1 aiIQ break
... You deserve it!

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