Late reggae pioneer Frederick “Toots” Hibbert would have celebrated his 78th birthday today, December 8th, 2020. In honor of Hibbert’s birthday, Controlled Substance Sound Labs (the label counterpart of Silverback Music), in collaboration with DubShot Records and Argentinian label Afro Studios, has released a never before seen video for the song “To You” showcasing one of the last studio recordings and videos of Hibbert prior to his death at the hands of COVID-19 earlier this year.
The posthumous video showcases Toots singing along-side Roots Radics, the legendary band including original musicians Errol “Flabba” Holt on bass and Earl “China” Smith on guitar. The footage from the video was shot during one of Hibbert’s last recording sessions prior to his passing on September 11th.
The collaboration is included on The Final Battle: Sly and Robbie vs. The Roots Radics, the Grammy-nominated project released back in April of 2019. The project was produced by Hernan “Don Camel” Sforzini at the Afro Studios headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Additional Roots Radics musicians include Kirk Bennett on drums; Lloyd “Obeah” Denton on piano, synth, and organ; and Bongo Herman on Nyah drums and percussion. The vocals were recorded at Reggae Center by Nigel Burrell, with harmonies by Jahniella Smith, Maria Smith, and IshaBel recorded at Grafton Studios in Kingston, Jamaica. Everol Wray also contributed trumpet and trombone to the recording. Celebrate Toots Hibbert with the new video below:
Roots Radics ft. Toots & The Maytals – “To You” (Official Video)
[Video: The Final Battle]
Along with his group, The Maytals, consisting of fellow vocalists Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias, Toots Hibbert coined the term “reggae” with his hit single from 1968, “Do the Reggay”. More than 50 years after that monumental single, Toots returned to the studio to reunite with one of the genre’s landmark rhythm sections to document what would unknowingly act as a coda in his musical legacy. The project played out as a sort of “dream concert,” a Reggae Woodstock that united two of the finest Jamaican bands ever, playing behind a once-in-a-lifetime assembly of the genre’s foundational creators performing all-new originals composed for the event. This harmonious clash between Sly & Robbie and Roots Radics included 12 original new songs featuring other legendary artists like Lee “Scratch” Perry, Ken Boothe, Luciano, Mighty Diamonds, Max Romeo, Mykal Rose, Horace Andy, The Congos, Freddie McGregor, Brinsley Forde, and Pablo Moses. Listen to the full album below:
Sly & Robbie, Roots Radics – The Final Battle (Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics) – Full Album
In 2021, The Final Battle project will continue with the release of The Final “DUB” Battle featuring exclusive dub versions of the songs from the project. Included on the Dub Battle will be legendary producers Scientist, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Dennis Bovell, Mad Professor, King Jammy, and another important epitaph from recently departed Bunny “Striker” Lee, who passed away in October of 2020. The album will also include unreleased tracks from King Tubby—one with the Roots Radics and one from Sly and Robbie.