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Junior Toots

A Little Bit of Love

(Crown of Fire; US: 6 Mar 2012; UK: Import)

Head-noddingly hypnotic, and a little bit safe

It’s gotta be tough, being the offspring of a genius. For my money, Toots and the Maytal’s Funky Kingston is the single greatest reggae album ever, and I’ll stand on Brother Bob’s coffee table and shout it to the heavens if needed. So Toots Hibbert’s offspring, like Marley’s, has some mighty big shoes to fill. Is it fair to judge Junior Toots by the standards of the guy who wrote “Pressure Drop”, “Funky Kingston” and “Time Tough”? Probably not. Are we going to do it anyway? Probably.


Listen, A Little Bit of Love is a sweet album. It hits its groove right off the bat, with the pleasant midtempo bounce of “Ready to Come Over”, and doesn’t let up through its 14 tracks. Sol Atash’s guest vocals on “Seek the Truth” are a highlight, as are Junior’s own hearfelt vocals on “Call On Jah” and the low-key urgency of “Only Love”. This is a consistent album, for better or worse; songs hover around the four-minute mark, and they rely on a sameness of instrumentation and tempo. That seems par for the course for roots reggae these days—establish a groove, and then vary it as little as possible. It’s all head-noddingly hyponotic, and maybe that’s all we can safely hope for. Unlike his dad, Junior is no musical visionary, so we’ll just have to be content with a chill vibe.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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