The Heptones

22 Golden Hits

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A sweeping compilation this, that bounces around the rocksteady, reggae and roots era, bundling together, contrary to the title, hits, misses, and barely known numbers. The bulk of 22 Golden Hits is drawn from the the Heptones recordings cut at Studio One across the mid-'60s and into the early '70s. It's a prime period to be sure, but where are such classics as "Baby" and "Get in the Groove," whose riddims are still versioned to this very day? Still, there are plenty more exquisite numbers to choose from -- the phenomenal harmonies that rain down on "Fatty Fatty," for example, or the indeed sweet as sugar "Sweet Talking," the scathing "Tripe Girl," and such seminal conscious numbers as "Ready to Learn," "Choice of Colours," "Pretty Looks" and "Heptones Gonna Fight" among them. The band's originals vie for attention with their superb covers like "Only Sixteen," while Leroy Sibbles bassist clamors for attention with his singing alter-ego. Leaving Studio One behind in 1971, the Heptones linked up with Joe Gibbs, and continued on their hit strewn way, represented here by the excellent "Hypocrites" and "Our Day Will Come." The following year found the band working with Lee Perry, for whom they cut "I Love You." Later in the decade, they returned to his side, recording such crucial roots numbers as "Mystery Babylon." There are too many great numbers omitted for this compilation for it to be considered a "best-of" collection, and it's too patchy to garner the tag "career spanning" but as the Heptones rarely recorded a dud number during these years, it's certainly a fine collection of golden oldies.

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