When Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston formed the Wailers in 1964, they borrowed wisely from American soul to give their native Jamaican reggae a more versatile sound. This helped them become the most influentual reggae act of all time. Marley is dead now; Livingston is a spiritual recluse; but Tosh is still pushing reggae's horizons forward by tastefully picking from American music without copying it. Saturday night at howard University, Tosh gave his Rastafarian reggae the clean sound, lead guitar and sparkling synthesizer of American rock.
Though Tosh has had to replace his famous rhythem section, he has retained his longtime lead instrumentalists. Donald Kinsey's pinpointed guitar solos and Robbie Lyn's soulful organ swells made the reggae unusually brisk and melodic. The new rhythm section, though, retained the trademark inverted syncopation, and Tosh's smokey voice kept its thick Jamaican flavor.
Premiere international Washington's top reggae band, also displayed the benefits of international interactions. This vocal sextet of Americans and Jamaicans stirred up effective reggae backbeats and chants, but colored them with James Wood's melodic, biting guitar fills. Lead singer Don Bonner's original compositions held up well next to the accomplished versions of Bob Marley tunes.