A true representation of joy
As you surely know, many people use music as an escape from their day to day life and problems. Which, when you think about it, makes it strange that a significant portion of music is centered around themes of personal struggles and strife. When so many songs are about unhappiness or longing, it is refreshing to hear a song that exudes nothing but contentment, joy, and energy. Enter Jamaican reggae band Toots & the Maytals and their 1973 hit "Funky Kingston." Coming from a band that claims thirty-one number one hits in Jamaica, you can expect a sound that embodies the party island vignette that comes to mind when most people think of the reggae capital of the world. Incorporating a faster tempo and more jazz-like rhythms than most reggae songs, Toots & the Maytals turn up the dial on traditional reggae and stray from the widely known calm nature of the genre.
However, the ten-piece band still retains core elements of reggae music: off-beat keyboard, cleanly undistorted guitar strums, plentiful horns, and hand-held percussion alongside simple drum kit beats. In "Funky Kingston," frontman Frederick "Toots" Hibbert truly embraces the role as frontman, rather than simply lead singer. In addition to lead vocals, Toots acts as the reggae version of the hype man – "Hey!", "Uh!", and "Oh yeah!" are tossed around liberally in the charismatic band leader's raspy howl, a signature of the band's iconic sound. Such undeniable positive energy and good vibes make it irrelevant whether this song was released four days ago or forty years ago – Toots & the Maytals were and always will be a manifestation of the island life, as it is perceived to be.