Toots & The Maytals – In the Dark (1973)
Unlike our previous two entries, The Congos’ Heart of the Congos and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Super Ape, In the Dark has an instant accessibility that shows why Toots Hibbert became an international phenomenon. With its homespun mix of soul, gospel, R&B, reggae, and ska, In the Dark isn’t short on catchy hooks, funky grooves, or island cool, and every bit of Toots’ larger-than-life, spirited persona makes it onto the record.
Despite it’s positive, carefree vibe, In the Dark is hardly a frivolous party record. The daily trials of Kingstonians are on full display- poverty, crime, violence, injustice- but rather than sink into cynicism or despair, Toots is always looking on the sunny side, with solace and salvation as his go-to remedies.
In that regard, In the Dark is a solid pick for your initial forays “Beyond Marley”. It’s toe-tapping and infectious, but with plenty of emotional depth to back it up.