Vocal harmony trio The Heptones and their front man and lead singer/bass maestro Leroy Sibbles are an integral part of reggae history with countless of immortal songs and albums under their belt. Some of their best known material was recorded for producer Coxsone Dodd in the mid to late 60s and in the mid to late 70s for producer Lee Perry.
In the late 70s Leroy Sibbles quit the band and moved to Canada. He was replaced by Naggo Morris, who sings lead on the recently reissued album Good Life, a set I have always regarded as underrated.
It was produced Joseph Hoo Kim and recorded at Channel One with The Revolutionaries providing the rock-hard riddims. It features several tunes with beautiful vocal harmonizing – Every Day Every Night, Black Man Memory, Can’t Hide From Jah and Repatriation is a Must. The set also features a well-crafted version of Bob Marley’s Natural Mystic.
Good Life was The Heptones’ eleventh album and it definitely stands up to par with classics such as Party Time and Night Food. It’s now available on vinyl, CD and digital download.
Ivorian superstar Alpha Blondy continues to conquer the world with his spicy mix of reggae, rock, pop, funk and traditional African music.
On his latest set Mystic Power the emphasis is however on rock, and several of the 15 tracks contain, in one way or another, way too sleazy, dirty and heavy rock riffs. On tracks like Seydou and Danger Ivoirité it almost sound like Alpha Blondy has invited heavyweight guitarists Eddie van Halen or Slash for a jam session.
But rock guitars aside, Mystic Power also collects the usual grand harmonies, funky and bright horn arrangements as well as catchy choruses and melodies. Included are also a version of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff, the acoustic Pardon and the stompy rock-infused dancehall number Hope with a little too auto-tuned Alpha Blondy sharing vocal duties with Beenie Man.
As usual Alpha Blondy sings mostly in French and English and addresses tough subjects, like recent political events in the Ivory Coast or former French governing.
If you manage to ignore the rock guitars Mystic Power is pretty decent album that’ll probably appeal to a cross-over audience, but for me, the guitars are just too annoying to be excused.