Entertainment

The Heptones give European tour nod

Sunday, September 24, 2017

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WITH more than 50 years in the industry, members of the rocksteady group The Heptones said their music is still in high demand, especially in Europe. The trio, comprising Earl Morgan, Robert Dacres and Carlton Scarlett recently wrapped up a two-month tour of the continent, with stops in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Spain.

“It was an amazing feeling for us as we are doing music from the early 1960s, and to see us rubbing shoulders with acts like Chronixx, Shaggy and Chris Martin shows that we are still very much relevant,” said group leader Earl Morgan.

Among the events performed were Rototom Sunsplash and Reggae Jam.

“The audience demanded an encore at Rototom. We were performing for thousands of persons and they were singing along to songs that we recorded decades ago,” Dacres said.

The Heptones are no strangers to Europe as this, Morgan said, is their seventh tour.

“Over the years we have noticed that although the Europeans are in love with our music, there is still a shortage of reggae in Jamaica. If you want to hear a catalogue of the genre, just go to Europe. I have heard songs that I have never heard in Jamaica but it's big in Europe,” Morgan said.

He told the Jamaica Observer that the relevance is based on the type of music that they have been recording over the years.

“Back in the days, a lot of groups use to do cover versions. We also use to sing over other people music but we used to record a lot of original songs. Our songs and unique harmonies are what keep us going,” he said.

In addition to performing, The Heptones used the opportunity to record a few tracks which are slated to be officially released later this year.

Currently the group is laying tracks for their upcoming album called Musicology. Comprising of 12 tracks, this will be the 68th album for the group whose first album was released in the mid-1960s. Including in the track listings are Let It Out, Music Alone Shall Live, and Call Your Name.

The original vocal trio comprised Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn and were most active in the 1960s and early 1970s. They were one of the more significant trios of that era, and played a major role in the gradual transition from ska and rocksteady into reggae with their three-part harmonies.

Among their first set of hits were Fattie Fattie on Sir Coxsone's Studio One label in 1966. They went on to record other hit singles for Coxsone including Pretty Looks Isn't All, Get In The Groove, Be a Man and Sea of Love (a cover of the Phil Phillips and the Twilights doo-wop classic). They later went on to record for Joe Gibbs and Harry J in the early 1970s and had a big hit with Book of Rules.

In 1977, Leroy Sibbles left The Heptones to focus on a solo career.

“Like any other long- standing group, we have changed members but we are here to stay. The Heptones name and brand will continue to live and I will ensure that it does as long as I live,” Morgan added.

— Simone Morgan-Lindo

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