The Heptones

Heptones & Friends, Vol. 2

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In 1971, after a long and successful run at Studio One, the Heptones left the foundation label and sauntered off in search of greener pastures. Joe Gibbs grabbed them up first, recording an album's worth of material before the band moved on the next year. One record wasn't much to crow about, so Gibbs cleverly stretched it to two by tossing onto the sets songs from other artists in his stable. The Heptones & Friends was Heptones heavy, featuring eight songs from the trio. The Heptones & Friends Vol. 2 was correspondingly lighter on the trio, with only two of their numbers featured within, although "The Magnificent Heptones" could conceivably itself count as three, being a medley of their earlier hits. Medleys were all the rage in Jamaica back in 1972, and this set gives us another taste, with "The Dynamic Ken Parker" stitching together re-recordings of a quartet of that star's biggest hits. Of equal interest is Dennis Brown's "Money in My Pocket," this is not the hit though, but the original recording, with Big Youth's DJ version "A So We Say" also included on the set. Veterans like Delroy Wilson and Alton Ellis offer up exceptional tracks, Peter Tosh returns with another tough classic, alongside excellent numbers from lesser names like Jackie Brown and Uriel. The Heptones' bouncy "I've Got a Feeling" slots nicely alongside equally entertaining songs like the Ethiopians' "The Ring," while romantic jewels jostle against the Versatiles' incendiary cultural cut "Warricka Hill." While shrifting fans short on the Heptones, this compilation is a potent reminder that no matter how great the group, in Jamaica there were plenty of other artists that could hold their own against them. A superb showcase of a producer, his stellar band, the Now Generation, his artists, and an unforgettable time in Jamaica's musical history.

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