Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Heptones - Unreleased Night Food & Rare Black Ark Sessions

The Heptones - Unreleased Night Food & Rare Black Ark Sessions
Label - Aural*x
Recorded - 1976-77
Style - Ska, Dub, Rare, Reggae, Lee Library, Black Ark

(review from rasputinmusic)
After their five-year contract with Coxsone was up, the Heptones went freelance and recorded at an array of other studios, but it was their classics "Country Boy" and "Book of Rules" for Harry J that endured. Though it's touted with the mystical Black Ark label, most of this album was recorded at Harry J's studios. On the verge of success, the Heptones were booked to tour the UK with the Wailers and Toots and the Maytals in 1973 but Leroy Sibbles got married and emigrated to Canada leaving Barry and Earl high and dry. Two years later he got back with them to record Night Food for UK-based Island records. This high profile issue recut their previous Studio One and Harry J hits and added a dreamy version of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Baby I need your loving." After Night Food, Island had the ideas of sending the trio into the Black Ark and having Lee Perry, then at the height of his creativity, work his metaphysical magic on them. Party Time was their most challenging and complex album since On Top (Studio One). It includes a sublime version of Dylan's biblical "I shall be released." (Disclaimer: this is the only time you will hear me use "sublime" and "Dylan" in the same sentence.) The Heptones in fact were friends of Perry and added backing vocals to seven of his greatest works. Earl Morgan recalled:

"We go there one night and he doing an album with Max Romeo and he say ‘Come do some work,’ so we do War Inna Babylon. Just start hum a little thing behind ‘it sipple out there.’ We harmony Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves, Columbia Colly with Jah Lloyd, we do the Congos album..."

With Sibbles back in town the trio appeared on the "ethereal dub masterpiece" Super Ape. This new CD then presents the out-takes of both albums. The Night Food session, recorded 30 years ago at Harry J and backed by the Wailers band, without overdubs, has a pleasingly big booming sound. Sibbles' lyrics are to the fore and each song has a dub plate companion. The songs alternate between mushy romanticism ("Crying over you") and politically conscious ones ("Mr President"). These outtakes, taken alone, may not have spurred many buyers, but as lagniappe we get the extended mixes of four of the Black Ark sides which are familiar but again different as they have Ranking King, an obscure deejay (with a dubby name!), toasting on them in different mixes from those Scratch previously issued. The cuts are a bit choppy when he slices into another take with, say, nyabingi drumming, but any new Black Ark material from this era is a revelation. They are like lost Mozart sonatas. However Ranking King is not too original, and how can you top a lyric like "Mystery Babylon's" "When the wine is in the wit, Rasta don't drink wine"? It's Shakespearean! The new mix of "Sorrows" quotes George Harrison's "Something in the way she moves." This is not necessarily a good thing, but an unmistakable hook! "Mystery Babylon" and "Party Time" are classic songs, worth hearing over and over again. Aside from the cover, the package is handsome & informative, and there are wonderful photos by Adrian Boot, but above all some of Jamaica's finest artists return in their peak in clean and clear sound.-- Alastair Johnston

1. The Heptones - Poverty In The Ghetto
2. Wailers All Stars - Salt Dub
3. The Heptones - Warden
4. Wailers All Stars - Warden Dub
5. The Heptones - Garden Of Life
6. Wailers All Stars - Shake Up Dub
7. The Heptones - Richard Khoury
8. Wailers All Stars - They Say Dub
9. The Heptones - Living Up On A Hill
10. Wailers All Stars - Hill And Dub
11. The Heptones - Party Time (Extended Mix)
12. The Heptones - Come Into My World (Extended Mix)
13. The Heptones & Ranking King - Mystery Babylon (Extended Mix)
14. The Heptones & Ranking King - Sorrows (Extended Mix)



Nostro said...

A 'classic' album no doubt & the extended mixes are great to hear.



Dubstrong said...

This is sweet as sugar cane...

Thanx fi dis!



party time

XMP said...

PRECISELY! happy mf xmas and shit