Tuesday, 27 October 2009

"From The Roots" by THE MAYTALS (December 2003 Sanctuary/Trojan 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This review and hundreds more like it can also be found in my 
SOUNDS GOOD Music Book: 1960s and 1970s MUSIC Volume 2 
- Exceptional CD Remasters 
It contains over 210 in-depth reviews (a whopping 2400+ e-Pages) 
And is available to buy/download at Amazon at the following link...

"…All Over The World…Share Out The Gold And Silver…"

Jamaican born Frederick "Toots" Hibbert was just 18 when he formed the earliest version of The Maytals in 1961 with his two friends Nathaniel "Jerry" Mathias and Henry "Raleigh" Gordon (the three are pictured on the cover). A couple of albums (and a Sixties jail-sentence for their leader later) and you jump forward to the 1970s - and the same wiser trio made this wonderful but now largely forgotten Reggae LP “From The Roots”. Sanctuary in the UK acquired the entire Trojan Records Reggae catalogue in 2001 for over £10 million and in a slew of superb CD reissues - this nifty little piece is a genuine star propping up the bar. Here are the precious metals...

UK issued in December 2003 – "From The Roots" by THE MAYTALS on Sanctuary/Trojan TJCCD091 (Barcode 5050159909124) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD version of that rare 1973 UK album and breaks down as follows (62:56 minutes):

1. Pee Pee Cluck Cluck
2. Loving Spirit
3. Doctor Lester (Aka African Doctor)
4. Gold & Silver 
5. Koo Koo
6. Revival Reggae
7. Thy Kingdom Come
8. One Eye Ends
9. A Time To Love
10. 9 O’Clock
11. Know Me Good
12. Got To Feel (It)
13. Feel So Good
14. Give Peace A Chance 
Tracks 1 to 14 are the album "From The Roots" issued in 1973 in the UK on Trojan TRLS 65 (recorded in/copyright date 1969)

15. Israel (a 1970 Jamaican 7" single)
16. Your Troubles Are Over (an album outtake)
17. Doctor Lester [aka African Doctor] (Alternate Take)
18. Know Me Good (Alternate Take) 
19. Feel So Good (Alternate Take)
20. I Alone (a 1971 single issued is Jamaica on Starapple Records)
21. One Eye Enos (a different version to the album cut; it was issued in the UK in 1971 on a 7" single Summit SUM 8520) 
22. Funky Funky (a 1971 Jamaican 7" single issued on Beverley's Records)

The album was produced by the legendary but short-lived LESLIE KONG (he died in 1971 aged only 37) - a young Chinese immigrant who was instrumental in the recording and acceptance of Jamaican music in its formative years (he did Bob Marley's 1st single in 1962).  The 12-page foldout insert has affectionate liner notes by HARRY HORNBY while the whole project was coordinated and compiled by LAURENCE CANE-HONEYSETT and JOHN REED - both of whom have extensive writing and compiling experience across a huge range of Trojan releases. Excepting the cover of John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance", all tracks are Hibbert originals - and there's even a card wrap on the outside depicting the original album sleeve that gives the whole release a classy feel...

Given the less-than-stellar quality of the original recordings (reggae is notoriously non-audiophile), the sound quality on these Cedar-improved remasters is superb - muscular and clear. Personal favourites include the sharing-out-our-wealth song "Gold And Silver" (lyrics above) and the superb "Loving Spirit" which is imbibed with Hibbert's strong belief in love channeled through God and music. The extras are ace too - personally I feel the 'Alternate Take' of "Know Me Good" is better than the released album version and "Funky Funky" is a wicked little groover of a record that must be impossible to find on original vinyl...and a cool rediscovery.

"From The Roots" is a sweetheart of an album and it's listed value at £30 in the Record Collector Price Guide of 2010 doesn't in any way reflect the difficulty you would have in locating an original copy on vinyl. For a lot less, you can now easily get this expanded CD instead. It's a journey you should take...and well done to all the good people involved in keeping this particular reggae flame alive…

PS: if you're looking for more music in the same vein, see my reviews for the 2CD DELUXE EDITIONS of the following 4 iconic British LP releases all of which were also on the Trojan Records label - "Tighten Up Volume 1" and "Tighten Up Volume 2" by VARIOUS ARTISTS, "1000 Volts Of Holt" by JOHN HOLT and "Skinhead Moonstomp" by SYMARIP. And for Island Records UK - see also my review of the 2009 3CD mini box set "War Ina Babylon"...

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