World & Latin

Their Light Still Burns

17 AUG 07 JOHN C. BRUENING

Light Your Light, the latest release from reggae pioneers Toots & The Maytals, marks the 45th anniversary of the formation of the band in Jamaica, when frontman Frederick "Toots" Hibbert -- a devotee of Otis Redding and Ray Charles -- united with fellow Kingston-born crooners Nathaniel "Jerry" Mathias and Raleigh Gordon. Throughout the 1960s, the group recorded with legendary Studio One producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and later with Prince Buster and Byron Lee. A dominant force at the Jamaican Festival Song Competition for several consecutive years, their fame spread beyond the island to the UK, and a string of fine recordings and a live show drenched in American soul and R&B won them an international following throughout the '70s.

Hibbert and the band went separate ways in 1981, but reconvened in the early '90s. Their 2004 Grammy-winning album, True Love, included collaborations with Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Ben Harper, Eric Clapton, The Roots and several others. Light Your Light is a mix of fresh new original material, covers of some of Toots' biggest influences and reinterpretations of some of the group's greatest songs. The group's touring band is on hand for the sessions, which guarantees a heightened level of intensity, and two special guests also stop by: Derek Trucks with some fine slide work on a remake of "Johnny Cool Man" and Bonnie Raitt with a vocal duet on "Premature." The band that first coined the term reggae in the late '60s continues to explore its potential to this day.