Listen: Book Of Rules / The Heptones HeptonesBook.mp3
Been digging out a lot of reggae stuff lately, combing through the shelves separated out exclusively for the genre, well ska and blue beat are in there too of course.
A few posts back, Justin Hines & The Dominoes to be exact, the story of my initial introduction, basically an unexpected crash course box full of seminal records from Howard, had me pull out a cd compilation I did at Island, created specifically to market, via in store play, the reissue series encompassing most of their classic 70′s reggae titles. Both cd and campaign were called 96º IN THE SHADE. It was good fun, and honestly a piece of cake. I just started with Jimmy Cliff’s ‘The Harder They Come’ – and using the Island master printout (which chronologically lists every single and album by catalog number – if anyone would like a pdf of it – email me – it’s fascinating) picked out the gems.
And I’m proud to say, the comp got such good response from the shops, that we renamed it GROOVE YARD, changed the cover, squeezed on a few more good ones, and released it commercially. It sold well. I’m pretty sure it’s still in print – no wait – I just checked Amazon – out of print but there’s 1 new copy for sale: $142.00. I need to dig out that box lot from the garage this Saturday.
Like the rest of the solar system, I don’t use cd’s much anymore – the Airbooks in the house don’t even have disc drives, so most of those compact discs are boxed and in storage, although some I do keep shelved for long drives. I grabbed GROOVE YARD on my way out to Stony Brook University to see Matt & Kim the other weekend, and found myself reliving the greatness of quite a few tunes from the era, as well as some sentimental memories of those times.
‘Book Of Rules’ is certainly one of my 10-ish favorite reggae 7′s. Fantastic song, nice clean vocal and lovely production. Well done Chris Blackwell.
Listen: Book Of Rules (Version) / The Heptones HeptonesBookDub.mp3
Released in ’73, it seems to have just preceded full on dub, hence instrumentals with decorative sound effects thrown in were then called ‘version’ – and often used as B sides. I’ve always wanted ‘Book Of Rules (Version)’ to be a bit more exciting or interesting or something moving – but it basically isn’t. I’ve posted it to quench curiosity. Plus it’s interesting to see how dub was getting started.
Listen: Sufferer’s Time / Heptones with The Upsetters HeptonesSufferersTime.mp3
By ’76, with Lee Perry at the controls, The Black Arc in full swing and The Upsetters doing the tracking, The Heptones were in tune with the times. Another classic, ‘Sufferer’s Time’, is basically perfect in every way. I never spin it just once. Can’t. I’ll even be late for something important to hear it that one extra time.
The real fun bit here it that Island US issued it as a 7″ too. I’m guessing there were pockets of Jamaican communities in some of the major US cities that would warrant, say a 1000 – 2000 piece run. Those sales figures are again guesses, and the manufacturing details were very sloppy at Island, so I never did figure out a real number on this and a few other jaw droppers (in that I couldn’t believe they’d been issued in the US on 7″) while at the company.
This I can tell you – there weren’t many as I’ve never seen another US copy of ‘Sufferer’s Time’. Just happened to stumble on this while going through some deeply buried boxes in the mailroom – a process of completion that took a month or two, but I got through ‘em all and it was well, well, well worth the sleuthing, trust me.
Listen: Sufferer’s Dub / The Upsetters UpsettersSufferDub.mp3
Not only is the A side a killer, but by ’76, proper dub was in serious swing – hence this monster example on the flip, aptly titled ‘Sufferer’s Dub’. Oddly credited only to The Upsetters despite many Heptones vocal drops, it makes for even more excitement in one way – an American single by The Upsetters. Never been another. I get excited by unexpected things admittedly.
Listen: Party Time / The Heptones HeptonesPartyTime.mp3
When this first arrived in the mail, dependably hot off the presses from HT, I was mildly disappointed. That was stupid. It’s awesome. I had the original UK LP pressing too, but now find only the US Mango copy in my wall shelf. Basically, I know Duane stole it – he always denies it – but it’s plain and simple true. No biggie – at least I know where it is.
But if you try to touch the single Duane, be prepared to pull back a bloody stub.