Toots & the Maytals Unplugged on Strawberry Hill
As the misty morning broke over the cool hills of St. Andrew, Jamaica, the production team made their way up the mountain side to Chris Blackwell’s beautiful Strawberry Hills Resort – offering the most breathtaking view of the city of Kingston. The team explored the intoxicating location, and the jade accented courtyard was selected for the special acoustic session to be recorded as a part of the ’Reggae Got Soul’ documentary project. By the time the production settled in the courtyard for the first ever recorded acoustic set by Toots & the Maytals, the after- noon sun’s golden rays washed over the set with the Blue Mountains as the backdrop.
Iconic Reggae innovator Toots stepped easily to the mic with his guitar in tow and began the ma-gical session with Time Tough, accompanied by his son on bass, two daughters on backing vo- cals and rich percussions to accent the mix. From the moment he began, the atmosphere was amplified by the crisp mountain air, the warmth of the perfectly blended vocals caressed by the steady bass, familiar guitar riffs and spirited percussion, and filled the surrounding countryside with the sweet sound of Jamaica’s music at its best. ‘Bam Bam‘ followed next and at that point everyone in earshot wore a broad smile on their face knowing they were witnessing a master at work in this never before seen, intimate presentation of some of his best known classics.
The priceless set further included ‘Pressure Drop‘, ‘True Love‘ (a duet with his daughters Leba and Jenieve), ‘Celia‘ and the dvd docu- mentary title track ‘Reggae Got Soul‘. As Toots performed, each song was refreshed by the acoustic arrangement which showcased the stun- ning vocals and distinctive chops that have defi- ned this artiste and a genre. As the sun set over the city, strains of ‘Funky Kingston‘ bounced off the mountainside into the city below. ‘Sweet and Dandy‘ had the house rockin so when Toots hit ‘Monkey Man‘ and moved into ‘I’ll Never Grow Old’, ‘Do the Reggae’ and closing track ‘54- 46’, the party was popping. Jamaican music’s most active legend and originator of the word ‘Reggae’ – firstputting it on wax and defining the genre – Toots moved smoothly and instinctively from Ska to Reggae as only an innovator could.
Regarded internationally as one of the top voca- lists in the world, ‘Toots & the Maytals Unplugged on Strawberry Hills’ will go down in history as one of those unique magical moments we wish we all could’ve been in attendance to absorb.