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.
Los Angeles based band The Lions has something of an ad hoc membership and on their latest set This Generation no less than 17 musicians were involved. Of these four are lead singers – the gritty and smooth vintage style of Malik Moore, the deejay efforts of Robbie Shakespeare’s cousin Black Shakespeare, the soulful Alex Désert and the legendary Leroy Sibbles from The Heptones.
The core of the band joined forces in 2007 and the year after their mostly instrumental dub and reggae debut Jungle Struttin’ was put out. This new album also incorporates instrumentals, but the vast majority of the tracks are vocals with a soulful, funky and jazzy backing.
This Generation is all about exquisite musicianship, excellent showmanship courtesy of Black Shakespeare and delicate singing and harmonies. It’s classic Jamaican 70’s reggae played by real musicians who know how to start a groove and set a dancefloor on fire.
Highlights include all of Malik Moore’s cuts, especially the sad Padre Ichiro and the more joyous album opener Bird On A Wire, and Black Shakespeare’s rolling and rocking Let’s Go Out Tonight complete with several references to reggae history.
This Generation is now available on CD and digital platforms.
Leroy Sibbles started his career as lead singer in the Heptones making his first recordings at legendary studio and label Studio One in the mid 60’s. He soon began to play the bass and also filling a number of roles in the studio conducting auditions, writing songs and making musical arrangements.
He is responsible for some of the most memorable bass lines in the history of reggae music that are still versioned to this day, and one of the latest examples is Curtis Lynch’s relick of the Full Up riddim, probably best known for the Mighty Diamonds’ tune Pass the Kouchie.
I had the opportunity to interview Leroy after the Heptones’ performance at Uppsala Reggae Festival. In the interview he also reveals his favorite contemporary artist and his all-time favorite album. Check the interview at United Reggae.
Redan i april kunde Reggaemani berätta att franska Irie Ites hade en ny rytm på gång. Och nu är datum bekräftat. Den 20 juni släpper fransoserna Party Time med sju somriga spår från kända namn som Leroy Sibbles, Sizzla och Glen Washington. Då är det 7” som gäller. Vill man ha cd eller legal nedladdning får man vänta till första september.
Party Time är, precis som titeln antyder, en relick på den klassiska 60-talsrytmen med samma namn. Då satt Coxsone Dodd i producentstolen. Även han jobbade med Leroy Sibbles, som sjöng in rytmens titellåt tillsammans med The Heptones kring 1968.
Irie Ites version ligger nära originalet. Basen är lite högre, men annars är 60-talskänslan intakt.
Ladda ner en kort mix av låtarna nedan som smarrig försmak:
Irie Ites Megamix Party Time