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Toots Hibbert, a Father of Reggae, Is Dead at 77 »

On classics like “Pressure Drop,” “Monkey Man” and “Sweet and Dandy,” Mr. Hibbert sang in a uncooked however candy tone that had echoes of Ray Charles, and he was typically in comparison with different giants of soul music.

“As a singer, he’s amazing,” Keith Richards mentioned in a 2019 profile of Mr. Hibbert in Rolling Stone. “His voice reminds me very much of the timbre of Otis Redding. When you hear him do ‘Pain in My Heart,’ it’s an uncanny resemblance.”

Like Marley, Mr. Hibbert got here to embody the message of early reggae as hopeful and uplifting, but unsparing in its portrayal of frequent individuals’s struggles. As a songwriter, Mr. Hibbert crafted easy morality tales, typically with simply a handful of lyrics that boil up in repetition. With their musky preparations and lilting upbeat, the songs have been so danceable that Mr. Hibbert’s delicate commentaries on poverty and injustice could possibly be ignored.

“54-46, That’s My Number,” from 1968, is a stark portrayal of a police shakedown (“Stick it up, mister”; “Turn out your left pocket”) primarily based on Mr. Hibbert’s personal arrest in 1966 over marijuana possession; he spent about a yr in jail, although he lengthy maintained that he had been framed.


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