Heptones ‘Good Life’ (Greensleeves) 4/5

20140313-165042.jpgReggae superstar trio the Heptones were already fifteen years in existence when this superior quality roots album surfaced in 1979. Recorded at Channel one under the masterly supervision of Jo Jo Hookim and backed by the crack studio musicians collectively known under the umbrella of the Revolutionaries, this is a terrifically enjoyable listen from start to finish with the harmonies as sublime as ever. The bouncy rockers tune ‘How would I leave?’ showcases the honey-toned vocals to best effect while the eerie keyboard-led ‘Black Man Memory’ is a candidate for left-field track. By the end of the 1970s New York City was becoming a place of refuge for Jamaicans from the on going political and economic strife and this is alluded to on ‘New York City’ which is a strong rockers number. A cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Natural Mystic’ is slower than the original in the intro, but gathers pace as it develops. Rhythm section and percussion impress on the catchy ‘Brother and Sister’. The only surprise is that the 12″ single that was released and album title track is one of the least convincing songs and DJs probably favoured the superior b-side of ‘Can’t hide from Jah’ which is a typical roots-based number with spiritual lyrics. Otherwise an exemplary album from one of reggae’s most consistent of performers. Tim Stenhouse