Classic rocksteady re-released in time for the summer!
Ilka Schlockermann 2007-07-06
The Heptones, consisting of Barrington Llewelyn, Earl Morgan and frontman Leroy Sibbles, were one of Jamaica’s definitive rocksteady vocal groups. They formed in Kingston in 1965 and in the late 60s and early 70s the trio recorded at Studio One under the helm of pioneering reggae producer Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd. It is this period that the Sweet Talking collection exclusively focuses on. Most of the tracks - which have all been fully remastered from the original studio recordings - are rare stereo mixes previously unreleased on CD.
The Heptones excelled at what the rocksteady period was famous for: sublime, soulful vocal harmonies layered over shuffling, easy-going, melodic rhythms. They had numerous hits especially during their Studio One years and many like ‘Baby’ are included here (strangely one of their biggest hits from that period, 1967’s '‘Fattie Fattie'’, has been omitted though).
Leroy Sibbles was not only a blessed singer but also a session bassist at Studio One, and he penned most of the Heptones’ music and lyrics. The majority of songs deal with the joys of love ('I’ll give the world to you, I mean it, baby. Oh babe' from '‘Baby’') and love gone bad ('Girl, I feel pure hate, never pass my way' from ‘'Tripe Girl'’), but the collection also includes some of their conscious songs dealing with black empowerment such as the brilliant opener ‘'Equal Rights'’ and ‘'Message From A Blackman'’ as well as the spiritual ‘'Glory Land'’.
The overall warm and uplifting sound makes for a pleasurable one hour listening experience with one short gem following another. The Heptones left their mark and are still a huge influence in reggae to this day. Sweet Talking and definitely sweet sounding.