Album review
The Meaning Of Life ~ Best Of The Heptones 1966 to 1976
The Heptones
Trojan Records

Tracking list

  1. Gunmen Coming To Town
  2. I Am Lonely
  3. Ain't That Bad
  4. Schoolgirls
  5. My World Is Empty Without You
  6. Hypocrite
  7. I'm In The Mood For Love
  8. You've Lost That Loving Feeling
  9. I've Been Trying
  10. H-E-L-P
  11. I'll Take You Home
  12. I Do Love You
  13. Old Time
  14. Meaning Of Life
  15. Love Won't Come Easy
  16. I Miss You
  17. Let Me Hold Your hand
  18. Born To Love You
  19. I'm Crying
  20. Tripe Girl
  21. Suffering So
  22. Party Time
  23. Mystery Babylon
  24. Babylon Falling
  25. Cool Rasta
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 3/4 Sleeve : 4

The Heptones, masters of harmony, consisted of Leroy Sibbles, Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan. The trio were the foremost rocksteady group, cutting classic albums for Coxsone Dodd in the late 60s. After releasing the excellent 'Party Time' set for Lee Perry in 1976, Leroy Sibbles embarked on a succesfull solo career. He was replaced by Naggo Morris. In the 90s The Heptones reunited and cut a fine album for Tappa Zukie.
This albums consists of 25 tracks from the orginal Heptones and kicks off with their first recording the ska tune Gunmen Coming To Town, recorded in 1966 for producer Ken Lack. The backing was provided by Tommy McCook and The Supersonics and cut at Duke Reid's Treasure Isle studio. The song quickly became a local favourite. Further releases for Ken Lack included I Am Lonely, Schoolgirls and Ain't That Bad.
After that they teamed up with Coxsone Dodd and over the next four years they became an integral part of Coxsone's Studio One set up. In 1971 they moved to producer Joe Gibbs and scored with a remake of their Studio One track Hypocrite. Joe Gibbs released two Heptones & Friends albums, which became bestsellers on the island.
After that they worked with almost every Kingston-based producer of note. For Gussie Clarke they did Born To Love You, for Winston Blake they cut I'm In The Mood For Love, whilst Old Time and Meaning Of Life were produced by Alvin Ranglin and with Harry J they did a lot of recordings like Cool Rasta and Suffering So.
Among their material for other producers wer re-cuts of some of their Studio One hits, including Love Won't Come Easy for Morice Wellington, Tripe Girl for Alton Ellis and Pete Weston, Party Time for Phil Pratt, and I'm Crying for Raphael Allen. Their work for Lee Perry included sublime recordings such as Mystery Babylon and Babylon Falling.
Although the album does not include all of their biggest hits it's an interesting collection of well known and lesser known tracks from the real masters of harmony.

Teacher & Mr. T.