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Toots & the Maytals 

Wednesday, August 15, at Peabody's.

Frederick "Toots" Hibbert and the Maytals (backing singers Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias) recorded "Do the Reggay" in 1968, unwittingly giving an official handle to a Jamaican hybrid of calypso and R&B previously called ska or rock steady. Hibbert was a country boy who moved to Kingston in the late '50s, living in the ghetto and trying to make it as a ska singer. He, Gordon, and Mathias had their first hit, "Halleluyah," 40 years ago, followed by a string of local hits that continued until Hibbert was sent to prison in 1966 for possession of ganja (an experience immortalized in the Maytals' hit "54-46 Was My Number"). During the Bob Marley-fueled reggae boom of the '70s, the Maytals cut critical albums for Island Records -- Funky Kingston, Reggae Got Soul, Pass the Pipe, Just Like That, and Knockout -- and contributed "Sweet and Dandy" and "Pressure Drop" to the soundtrack of the reggae film The Harder They Come. Hibbert disbanded the group in 1982 and re-formed it in the mid-'90s. Where much so-called reggae today is trying its damnedest to sound like hip-hop, the Maytals are keeping the roots-reggae banner flying. Their gospel-influenced sound -- Hibbert's voice has been compared to the late Otis Redding's -- cuts right to the guts of the music that made a tiny island the Nashville of the Caribbean.

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