(More) Sounds of X-Mas!December 20, 2012
Well sorry ’bout the break (been busy mixing an EP), but here’s a little more Yuletide croonings for your pleasure: The great Happy Christmas (The Christmas Song) by killer Jamaican reggae outfit Toots and The Maytals. Now, from my understanding reggae and ska was never that big in the US, but in the UK during the late 60s it was huge. Local label Trojan Records issued slews upon slews of 7″ singles and managed to release some chart topping hits, including Tony Tribe‘s Red Red Wine (you might remember UB40‘s hit version), The Upsetters‘ Return of Django and The Pioneers‘ classic Long Shot Kick de Bucket (good luck trying to decipher the lyrics on that one!). Even though they issued some of Bob Marley‘s earliest work the label itself failed launching themselves in the USA – with a company name like that go figure.
Anyway, lead vocalist Fred ‘Toots’ Hibbert (he later on went solo) had a great voice that parallelled those of classic American R&B/Soul performers like Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett. Always delivering with soul and passion, a lot of the group’s tracks became classics like the prison-themed 54-46 (Was My Number) (most sampled bassline so far) and Pressure Drop famously covered by The Clash. Oddly enough his Funky Kingston later on appeared as the opening theme for reality tv-show Miami Ink. Mixing reggae with early 70s US funk it kicks mucho butt. Check it out: