Whenever Toots Hibbert opens his yap, were instantly reminded that reggae did not just spring full-grown from the damp Jamaican soil, but rather evolved slowly as Jamaican musicians, already full of instinctive Afro-Caribbean rhythmic feel, took additional sustenance from American R & B beamed out at night from high-powered radio stations in New Orleans, Miami, and Memphis during the 50s and 60s. Toots, who surely ranks with Marley as one of the original reggae greats, reveals the influence of Memphis soul (especially Otis Redding) more explicitly than most of his brethren–a debt acknowledged on his most recent LP, Toots in Memphis. But notice how on the LP’s straight “soul” numbers (covers of “Knock on Wood” “Love and Happiness,” etc) he sounds less comfortable than on his roots-reggae reworking of Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” which reaffirms the vitality of the style with which Toots first triumphed. It’s clear that Toots is no mere derivative, and that he certainly hasn’t lost his old spark. Saturday, Biddy Mulligan’s, 7644 N. Sheridan; 761-6532.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/George DuBose.