The Heptones

On the Road Again

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The Heptones have been the standard for Jamaican harmony trios for some four decades now. The original lineup of Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan, and Barry Llewellyn represented the pinnacle of the genre, and when Sibbles left the group in the late '70s to be replaced by Naggo Morris, the fall off was slight. Unfortunately, the Heptones drifted into synthesized instrumentation in the mid-'80s, and their albums -- although they always featured wonderful harmony work -- became fairly spotty. Sibbles briefly reunited with Morgan and Llewellyn for 1995's Pressure!, but when the dust cleared, only Llewellyn remained to carry on the Heptones name. All of this might lead up to On the Road Again being a complete disaster, but it isn't. With rhythms from Sly & Robbie, keyboard touches from Gladstone Anderson, and arrangements and harmonies from Winston Jarrett, it is easily the best Heptones release in a decade. While it doesn't measure up to the classic '70s work with Sibbles and Morgan, On the Road Again features gorgeous harmonies on strong songs like "Foreign Policy," "Want Something," and "Rule Things," and suggests that listeners haven't heard the last of the Heptones yet.

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