The Heptones

In Love with You

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With Bob Marley's success, in 1978 United Artists attempted to jump on the reggae bandwagon with Anthology of Reggae Collectors, a series of individual artist albums. In Love With You, the 14th volume of the series, features a clutch of classic cuts from the Heptones' Studio One days. It's not quite a best-of collection but comes close, and is filled with stellar numbers that criss-cross the five-year period (between 1967 and 1971) that the trio spent at the label. The point of entry for most fans will be "Fatty Fatty," the group's eloquent and inspired love song for large ladies. This was the Heptones' first major Jamaican hit, a delicate rocksteady number that announced their arrival on the charts with panache. Even more soulful was "Sweet Talking," a showcase for lead vocalist Leroy Sibbles, who takes a bouncy arrangement and turns it into an R&B masterpiece. Arguably even better was "Baby," the denouement of the Studio One sound, with its impassioned vocals, ethereal harmonies, and an arrangement that wraps the beats in gauze and the melody in a splendor of luxurious piano and guitar riffs. And the hits just kept coming, and "In a Groove" serenely celebrates the splendor of music in all its glory. These songs were all original compositions, but the trio was equally adept at cover versions, and one of its earliest cuts for Coxsone Dodd was "Only Sixteen," a fabulous take on the Sam Cooke classic. Equally memorable was the Heptones' version of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," a number they recut with Niney Holness in 1975. From affectionate love songs to party pieces, impassioned soul to the reverence of the spiritual "Oh Glory," In Love With You showcases the trio in all its moods, with "Talkative" even giving a glimpse at the group's more vindictive side. This album is the early Heptones at their most sublime.

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