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Artist Profile
Heptones
1965 ~
Anyone with more than just a passing interest in rock steady and reggae knows and loves the music of The Heptones. Their near faultless body of work gives no indication as to why crossover success managed to elude one of the greatest ever Jamaican harmony trios
>>Featured Page
Members:
Leroy Sibbles
Earl Morgan
Barry Llewelyn
Place of establishment:
Jamaica
One of the most popular and influential Jamaican vocal trios ever began their working lives with Leroy Sibbles welding, Barry Llewellyn as a mechanic and Earl Morgan selling newspapers. The Heptones were originally formed in Kingston's Trench Town ghetto in the late fifties by Earl and Barry. In the early sixties they met Leroy Sibbles, then lead singer of another street corner group, when the two groups clashed in a street corner singing contest. Leroy was so impressed with Earl and Barry that he immediately asked them to join with him and Leroy became the group's lead singer but both Barry and Earl could also sing lead. This varied versatility was vital to their overall sound.

Sydney 'Luddy' Crooks of The Pioneers brought the group to the attention of Ken Lack, road manager for The Skatalites, who ran the Caltone label. They recorded four songs for Caltone at Duke Reid's Treasure Isle studio in 1966 and their first release, a version of Rossini's 'William Tell Overture' entitled 'Gunmen Coming To Town', was a very early indication that this particular trio were not going to be following anyone. Their next record for Caltone, 'I Am Lonely', was not a particularly big seller on its original release but thirty years later would go on to become one of the most prized (and most expensive) records on the UK revival circuit.

Top vocalists Bob Andy, Ken Boothe and Horace 'B.B.' Seaton sat on the panel for The Heptones' audition for Coxsone(CS Dodd) in 1966 and, after being judged favourably by this team of experts they stayed at Brentford Road for the next five years. Their first hit record, the risqué 'Fatty Fatty', was deemed too lewd for radio play:

"They decided to ban it in Jamaica and, when they did that, everybody wanted to hear it so it made the record one of the best sellers in Jamaica." Earl Morgan

The group soon became a vital part of the Studio One set up and The Heptones' contribution to the sound of Studio One can never be overstated. Leroy was employed as both talent scout and session bass player, Barry as a session musician and Earl sang harmonies and worked in the pressing plant. Leroy Sibbles also wrote countless songs, many tinged with a hint of misogyny, yet delivered with a genuine underlying sensitivity. And as rock steady turned into reggae his superb love songs were matched by songs of truth and rights and many of his thoughtful lyrics became preoccupied with black self determination.

Leroy was also an extremely talented musician whose bass lines were sufficiently melodic to work with any amount of different arrangements. Many of these have subsequently become ubiquitous and the rhythms for songs such as 'Give Me The Right', 'Party Time', 'Sweet Talking', and 'Why Did You Leave' are returned to time after time after time. Prolific but always professional much of their output can be found on four faultless albums for Studio One 'The Heptones', 'On Top', 'Freedom Line' and 'Black Is Black' also known as 'Ting A Ling'. These contain much of their best work but many classic tracks also appeared only on seven inch singles or featured on one of Coxsone(CS Dodd)'s many long playing various artist compilations.

"After Coxsone we said anybody want us they can take us so we went from one producer to the next. We worked for so many producers..." Earl Morgan

The Heptones left Studio One in 1971 and were free to record for any of Kingston's many record producers passing on the lessons they had learnt at Coxsone's musical college to a new generation of producers and artists. Their first move was to Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) where they hit with 'Be The One' and 'Hypocrite' and over the next two years, they recorded for most producers of note often updating their Studio One hits in the current style. In a frenetic burst of creativity they worked for Clive Chin At Randy's(Randys) with 'My Guiding Star', Geoffery Chung with 'I Miss You', Rupie Edwards with 'Give Me The Right' over the 'My Conversation' rhythm, for Augustus Pablo with 'Love Won't Come Easy' and for Phil Pratt with 'Party Time' & 'Swept For You Baby'. The Heptones' cover versions and do-overs were all inevitably invested with all the feeling and subtlety of their own originals.

In 1973 Leroy emigrated to Canada but returned to Jamaica three years later and the group began to work with Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry) and Harry 'Harry J' Johnson(Harry Johnson). Records such as 'Sufferers Time' echoed the dread mood of the times and their work for The Upsetter showcased their soaring harmonies against his dense, churning rhythms. In 1976 the Lee Perry produced 'Party Time' album was released worldwide by Island Records and followed by Harry J's long player 'Night Food' which trod a more traditional route despite the inclusion of the vitriolic 'Country Boy'. Both albums belatedly helped to introduce the music of The Heptones to a wider audience but, later that year during a tour with Bob Marley & The Wailers and The Maytals organised by Island Records, Leroy left the group and returned to live in Canada and pursue a solo career.

"If Leroy had never left The Heptones we would have been even bigger worldwide... "
Earl Morgan

After Leroy's departure Dolphin 'Naggo' Morris took over as lead singer but, with a few notable exceptions, their records did not scale the same exalted heights as the group's previous work. Barry and Earl reunited with Leroy in the early nineties and The Heptones "keep playing and recording and spreading the message".

"The Heptones is not a one man thing. The Heptones is a three man thing." Earl Morgan

Barry and Earl always did far more than filling in the gaps behind Leroy's lead and both have made notable contributions to The Heptones' canon. Earl's 'Pretty Looks Isn't All' is one of a handful of classic songs that will last for as long as reggae music is listened to.

The Heptones unfailingly set standards for everyone else to aspire to and to measure their own work by. There is no need for any retrospective revisionism to belatedly bestow credibility on The Heptones for they notched up rock steady hit after hit and reggae hit after hit after hit throughout the sixties and the seventies. At one time it looked inevitable that they would surely follow Bob Marley & The Wailers and Burning Spear into the realms of international stardom but it was not to be. Amongst Jamaican music lovers their popularity is unmatched yet they remain relatively unappreciated by wider audiences. Probably the most accomplished Jamaican vocal harmony trio ever... there will never be anyone quite like The Heptones again.
 
Related artist(s):
Paragons
Label Profile
Studio One
1954 ~
>>Show additional info
 
Hit title(s)
CD A Love I Can Feel - Studio One
¥2080
No Stock
LP A Love I Can Feel - Studio One
¥2080
No Stock
LP Born To Love - Studio One
¥1680
No Stock
vinyl 7" Baby Why - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" Real Rock - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" Love Won't Come Easy - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" Pretty Looks Isn't All - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" I'm Just A Guy (中盤で音圧が下がる部分あり) - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Stars - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Feel Like Jumping - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Rougher Yet - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" I Don't Know Why - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Hooligan Ska (Original Stamper) - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" Truly - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Fattie Fattie - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" Swing Easy - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Can I Change My Mind - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" What Kind Of World - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" I'm Still In Love - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Shu Be Do Be - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Feeling Soul - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Full Up - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" I've Got To Go Back Home - Studio One
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Never Let Go - Studio One
¥850
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vinyl 7" Sixth & Seventh Books (Off Center) - Studio One
¥570
No Stock
>>Best seller(s)
 
Hit rhythm(s)
Yahoo/Ya Ho
Queen Of The Minstrels
Rain From The Sky
Rock Fort Rock
Rocking Time
Rougher Yet
Run Run/Koloko
Sea Of Love
Skylarking
Pretty Looks Isn't All
Pressure & Slide
Race Track
Mean Girl
Nanny Goat
No Man Is An Island
Party Time
Pick Up The Pieces
Picture On The Wall
Please Be True
Smile/Hello Mama Africa
Soul & Inspetation
Truly
Truth & Rights
Unchained
Undying Love
We're In The Mood/Rock Me
What Kind Of World
When I Fall In Love
Why Did You Leave
True Believe In Love
Ting A Ling
Stars
Sweet Talking
Swing Easy
Tell Me Now
Ten To One
Things & Time
Things Come Up To Bump
Throw Me Corn
Mr. Bassie
Moving Away
Mama
Desparate Lover
Drum Song
Fat East
Fattie Fattie
Feel Like Jumping
Feeling Soul
Freak Out
Freedom Blues
Declairation Of Rights
Darker Shade Of Black
African Beat
Answer
Death In The Arena
Bobby Babylon
Breaking Up
Can I Change My Mind
Come Home
Conquer Me
Full Up
General
I'm The Ruler
Joe Frasier
Love I Can Feel
Love Me Always
Love Me Forever
Love Me Girl/Generall
Love Won't Come Easy
Mad Mad
I'm Still In Love
I'm Not A King
Heavenless
Heavy Rock
Heptones Gonna Fight
Hot Milk/Murderer
How Could I Leave
I Shall Be Released
If I Follow My Heart
I'm Just A Guy
Real Rock
 
Related label(s):
Bamboo
Island
Dub Store Records
Soul Jazz Records
Heartbeat
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Description of item
[All Items] → [LP] → [Ska / Rocksteady] → [Rock Steady] → [Heptones]
No Stock
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LP LP
Heptones
Heptones
Studio One
¥1680 (US$14.09)
Rating: 12345
Genre: Ska / Rocksteady
Sub Genre: Rock Steady
Produced by: CS Dodd
Approx. year: 1968
Date added: Nov 30, 1999
Date re-stocked: Dec 14, 2012
Country: Jamaica
Catalog number: SOLP 9002
Music type: Rocksteady
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12 TRACKS :
1) listen Fattie Fattie
2) listen Why Must I (Overdub)
3) listen Only Sixteen
4) listen Land Of Love
5) listen The Best Things In Life
6) listen Gee Wee
7) listen I've Got A Feeling
8) listen Tripe Girl
9) listen Baby
10) listen Let's Fall In Love
11) listen Take A Tip From
12) listen Cry Baby Cry
PRODUCED BY: CS Dodd RECORDED AT: Jamaica Recording Studio
[MUSICIANS] BACKED BY: Soul Vendors
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Fattie Fattie (7")
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This producer's best seller(s):
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