The Heptones Sweet Talking

The Heptones By anyone’s measure, the Heptones are among the top five reggae harmony trios of all time. They may not be household names like the Wailers or Toots and the Maytals but they were among Studio One’s greatest hit makers. As befits most of Heartbeat’s collections, many of those classics are represented here, often in rare stereo or twelve-inch mixes. This collection is a primer on the Studio One sound of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Lead Heptone and long-time Canadian resident Leroy Sibbles not only wrote the songs but crafted the bass lines for his own group and many others, such as Burning Spear and Horace Andy. This is classic pop music in anyone’s book. The musicians are firing on all pistons, like Motown at its peak, through timeless tunes like "Pretty Looks Isn’t All” and "Sweet Talking.” The more risk-taking side of Coxsone Dodd’s operation is represented with the edgy, funky cover of the Temptations’ "Message from a Black Man” — one of many outstanding Jamaican covers of that song — and the latter day, ten-minute twelve-inch mix of "Let’s Try.” Seldom has the utterly accessible vibe of Studio One been so immediate. This is a must-have for all Heptones fans and a worthy addition to any reggae library. (Heartbeat, www.heartbeatreggae.com) David Dacks (Heartbeat)