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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

HEPTONES

By JUDSON KILPATRICK
Published April 7, 2006

Cool Rasta
Trojan/Sanctuary

The Heptones shouldn’t need introduction. They rank among the very best reggae vocal trios, perhaps most well-known for their Harry Johnson-produced “Book Of Rules.” In fact, one of the main reasons to purchase this reissue of their 1975 LP is the bonus tracks (including that smash), plus two dub versions with wicked descending bassline in full force. The original material—also produced by Johnson—is packed with prime examples of early ’70s contrast of dreamy harmonies over bass-heavy roots rhythms. Leroy Sibbles, Barry Llewelyn and Earl Morgan were hitting a peak in both songwriting and harmonizing, leading off with a declaration of hope on the title track, as well as the jaunty, melodic black-power anthem “Black On Black (a.k.a. Be A Man).” Bonus cuts include Heptones favorite “Country Boy,” their haunting portrait of poverty “Mama Say,” and the conscious classic “World,” stretching the album to an hour of solid ’70s reggae.