The Heptones The Meaning Of Life: 1966-1976

The Heptones were one of the best-known vocal trios in Jamaica, but never achieved international success despite their many talents. Their place in reggae history is assured with their Studio One classics "Party Time," "In The Groove" and "Fatty Fatty." Lead Heptone and one-time Studio One bassist Leroy Sibbles in particular has been called one of the most influential reggae musicians, due to his development of some of the enduring Jamaican bass lines. This collection rounds up a good 25 tracks of their non-Studio One material spanning from the dying days of ska to their creative high water mark with Lee Perry. This compilation finds a band developing its style from R&B cover band to become much more interesting, blues-inflected songwriters strongly influenced by the Impressions. The Meaning of Life takes a while to get going, but by track seven in it seems like every song is a gem, even the covers. Their angelic harmonies complement memorable songcraft. Some songs may be too pop-oriented for some reggae fans, but there's no denying the combination of pop-craft and wicked rhythms on "Love Don't Come Easy" (over a famous Augustus Pablo rhythm), "Mystery Babylon" and "Tripe Girl." This compilation addresses the kind of material that Blood and Fire would likely not release: a compilation of vocal music recorded for more than a dozen different producers. So, praise is due to Trojan is for continuing to put together these kinds of reissues. (Trojan)