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Party Time

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Album Review

Party Time matched vocalists Barry Llewelyn, Earl Morgan, and Leroy Sibbles with veteran producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, who knew how to keep the group sounding contemporary without losing the harmonic interplay that underlines their appeal. The combination proved too good for discerning listeners to pass up — particularly in Britain, where vocalists like Marianne Faithfull would cite the band as a personal favorite. The title track itself is a classic for its urge to "live some life before we're old, before we're cold"; the characteristically slithering groove makes the group's vocal interplay all the more irresistible. "Mr. President" and "Storm Cloud" hurl rhetorical thunderbolts against uncaring, faceless politicians, while "Now Generation" vows to show what young people can do with their boundless energy. "Road of Life" and Llewelyn's haunting, hypnotic "Serious Time" continue the more reflective bent taken on the group's hit single, "Book of Rules." Not to be left out, Perry contributes an equally catchy social critique in "Sufferers Time" (which shows a talent not readily associated with him). The Heptones also looked outside their genre, with dramatic results; a glistening remake of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" is one of the standouts here, with the trio emphasizing the song's gospel roots amid some strategically altered lyrics ("I see Jah light come shining/from the west unto the east"). The Heptones' take on Dylan provided an early, powerful indication of how reggae could intersect with other genres to stunning effect.

Biography

Formed: 1965

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

One of the definitive rocksteady vocal groups, the Heptones were also one of the few to successfully make the transition to the reggae era. The group was fronted by Leroy Sibbles, who was not only an exquisite singer but also a talented songwriter, arranger, and session bassist at the legendary Studio One. Penning much of its own material, the group boasted one of the deepest catalogs of its time, full of high-quality numbers that were widely imitated for their close-harmony vocals, and widely recycled...
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Party Time, The Heptones
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