Toots and the Maytals enlisted the help of some friends for
their new album True Love. Keith Richards, Ben Harper and
Jack Johnson are only a few of the performers lending their talents
to the legendary reggae act. However, the all-star lineup is
unnecessary as Toots really does not need their help.

With the exception of the opening song, “Still is Still
Moving with Me,” written and performed with Willie Nelson,
all of the songs on True Love have already been elevated to
classic status. Not much has changed since their unveiling 40 years
ago. Toots still consistently delivers lethargic tempos that flow
with the ease of a needle puncturing velvet.

The best collaborations on the album derive from the musicians
that understand Toots. Eric Clapton demonstrates that he is still a
guitar virtuoso on “Pressure Drop.” No Doubt
contributes to “Monkey Man,” but only a mere shadow of
Gwen Stefani’s voice pierces through Toot’s vibrant
baritone.

On other parts, Toots downplays his efforts, allowing his guest
stars to shine. Bonnie Raitt holds her own in the powerful duet on
the title track, while Ryan Adams timidly carries the lyrical
burden on “Time Tuff.” Accustomed to a piercing whine,
Adams lacks Toots’s deep-rooted soul. Bootsy Collins and the
Roots have the most fun with their remake of “Funky
Kingston;” but it lacks the sweat-inducing energy of the
original.

Although Toots does not need his musical counterparts, they add
fresh elements to his classics and, most importantly, bring his
music to a wider audience. Whether it gains them legions of new
fans or not, Toots and the Maytals prove that their guest stars are
the lucky ones to be granted the opportunity to play alongside the
reggae great.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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