This is the first ever recorded acoustic set by Grammy award-winning Toots & the Maytals, recorded overlooking Kingston at the iconic Chris Blackwell property, while the afternoon sun’s golden rays washed over the set with the Blue Mountains a poetic backdrop. The album includes a bonus DVD documentary by the of ‘Reggae Got Soul which containing rare live footage from Toots’ unforgettable performance at Rockpalast in 1981, still talked of in huge reverence in shaded corners of the UK today.
Another point of interest even the unique liner notes were contributed by Grace Jones. But to really get you drooling, I have to borrow from the press release – think – “sun kissed acoustic session” the perfect excuse for the reggae ambassadors to shine in their homeland sun to coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Jamaican Independence Day
‘Unplugged At Strawberry Hill’ / ‘Reggae Got Soul, depicts an intimate and soulful side to many revered classics like ‘Funky Kingston’ and ‘54-46’. Toots’ iconic bruising vocal is smooth, relaxed and saunters over laissez-faire rhythms that sound like they are recorded at sunset – ‘Unplugged on Strawberry Hill’ is the perfect summer album for lazing around waiting for bands to start at a festival or now that the rain has hopefully stopped, kicking back at a barbecue. It’s at this point, that i start thing of an iced rum and coke and just kick back, I can now confirm, that Toots and the Mytals in 2012 have made a perfect soundtrack to relax to.
It should come as no surprise, as Toots And The Maytals, record holders for most number one singles in Jamaica, have been concocting and performing their brand of firecracker reggae/ska since 1961. Furthermore, with tracks like ‘Pressure Drop’ and ‘Monkey Man’ firmly cemented as music standards, the former being covered by everyone from The Clash to Robert Palmer, the latter covered most movingly by the late legend herself, Amy Winehouse - they may just know a thing or two about music and performance, by now.
I am going to bail and leave it to another reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff to wrap this review up, “When he starts to sing, the place lights up” could not have summed it up better, whether it is in a studio, garden, concert hall or festival stage, even unplugged, the spell is cast, it’s infectious. 8.5/10