Toots and the Maytals: Got To Be Tough Review

Got To Be Tough's album art.

Got To Be Tough’s album art.

John Kowalski

Toots and the Maytals are a Jamaican band, formed in 1961. They released more than 23 albums, with their last album being Got To Be Tough in 2020. Toots Hibbert, the lead singer of the group, died on September 11th 2020 at the age of 77. This review will look at the 10 songs found on the album Got To Be Tough

 

Drop off Head is the first track of the album. Upon first listening to this track the listener may be confused. The instruments don’t seem to work together, it doesn’t flow well, and overall it feels sloppy. After listening to the track a couple more times, the listener may have the same reaction. This song has something in it that does not work, and it kills the tune.

 

Just Brutal has a completely different vibe from the first track. The pace is quick while the singing and instrumentation are upbeat. This song feels like it would’ve made a much better intro to the album, as it’s a tight production. 

 

Got To Be Tough is the namesake track on the album. This song offers a universally accepted message of caring for each other during difficult times. This message, along with the chill feel of the tune, makes it the best piece on the album.

 

Freedom Train is an awesome track. With a great guitar riff, wonderful vocals, and a fairly quick pace, the song offers a ton in the musical department. In the end, the combination of all these elements makes this track great. 

 

Warning Warning is a great song. Hibbert’s singing is good, giving a laid-back delivery. The track feels more chill than previous tunes, and acts as a great transition between two songs. 

 

Good Thing That You Call is a great tune. At first it doesn’t add much to the table, but over the course of the track the song’s complexity grows, bringing in more instruments over time. Overall, there’s not much to say about the piece, but it is still worth a listen.

 

Stand Accused is an intriguing track. The vocal performance given by Toots is awesome, as you can hear the care and attention he puts into his singing. This singing performance complements the great guitar riff and makes this another good piece.

 

Three Little Birds is a cover of a song by Bob Marley. This cover is great, and captures the essence of the original track while putting a darker twist onto it. The vocal performance of Toots in this song shows a different side of the lyrics with “Every little thing, is gonna be alright” sounding almost satirical in this new tone. 

 

Having A Party isn’t spectacular by any means. This is a song that fits as a good filler in between pieces. That being said, the track is still fun and upbeat, and still holds up against the other tunes.

 

Struggle is the final track on the album. This song is funky and groovy, spreading good vibes all around. This makes for a great send off to a wonderful and final album. 

 

Final Thoughts

Got To Be Tough is a beautifully put together album. Almost every song hits the mark, creating an awesome album. My final score for this album is a 9/10. RIP Toots Hibbert. Thank you for everything.