The Heptones

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-1977)

Barry Llewellyn (aka Barry Heptones) (RIP 2011) -- vocals 

- Earl Morgan -- vocals

- Leroy Sibbles -- lead vocals, bass


  supporting musicians (1977)

- Ray Allen -- brass, sax

- Bento -- drums

- John "Rabbitt" Bunderick -- keybaords

- George Farr -- harmonica

- Kay Gardner -- backing vocals

- Bernard "Touter" Harvey -- keyboards

- Denzil "Pops" Laing -- percussion

- George Lee -- brass

- Remi Kabaka -- percussion

- Jackie McCauley -- guitar

- Jean Roussel -  mini moog

- Santa -- drums

- Robbie Shakespeare -- bass

- Earl "Chinna" Smith -- guitar

- Pete Vanderpuje -- brass


  line up 2 (1977-95)

Barry Llewellyn (aka Barry Heptones) (RIP 2011) -- vocals 

- Earl Morgan -- vocals

NEW - Dolphin Naggo Morris -- vocals (replaced Leroy Sibbles)


  line up 3 (1995-2016)

Barry Llewellyn (aka Barry Heptones) (RIP 2011) -- vocals 

- Earl Morgan -- vocals

NEW - Leroy Sibbles -- lead vocals, bass


  line up 4 (2016-)

NEW Robert Dacres -- vocals 

- Earl Morgan -- vocals

NEW - Carlton Scarlett -- vocals






- The Hep One

- Barry Llewellyn (solo efforts)

- Earl Morgan (solo efforts)

- Dolphin Naggo Morris (solo efforts)

- Leroy Sibbles (solo efforts)

- The Royals (Dolphin Naggo Morris)

- Soul Boys (Dolphin Naggo Morris)

- Veterans (Dolphin Naggo Morris)





Genre: reggae

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Night Food

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS 9381

Country/State: Kingston, Jamaica

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cutout notch on edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $30.00


Given the worldwide success Chris Blackwell and Island enjoyed signing Bob Marley and the Wailers, it wasn't a surprise to see the company look to sign additional reggae talent.  One of the acts they signed - Kingston's The Heptones.


Produced by Danny Holloway, 1976's "Night Food" was clearly intended to introduce the trio of Barry Llewellyn, Earl Morgan and Leroy Sibbles to new audiences.  From a personnel standpoint the album served as a group reunion marking the first time they had recorded together since 1973 when lead singer Sibbles moved to Canada.  That said, this was essentially a compilation of the trio's best known songs.  Holloway was clearly tasked to wade through the trio's extensive catalog, select some of the best tracks, clean them up and modernize these performances for American and European audiences.  Admittedly, many of the originals featured low-fi production.  Remixes such as 'Country Boy', 'Sweet Talkin'' and 'Book of Rule' cleaned up the sound, occasionally adding new vocal tracks along with additional guitar, keyboards and chirpy backing singers.  With the exception of ill-advised strings on a couple of the tracks like 'Deceivers' and 'Fatty Fatty', personally I didn't have a problem with the remixes.  hardcore Heptones fans may feel differently.  The other thing worth mentioning, is trying to document reggae act discographies is a nightmare.  The Heptones are a perfect example with dozens of different releases and song variants being common - different releases across different countries dub mixex; disco mixes; 7" pressings, 12" pressings, etc.  


Island put the trio on the road opening for Toots & the Maytals, but within a year the original line-up shattered with Sibbles opting for a solo career.  He was replaced by Dolphin Naggo Morris.


"Night Food" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Country Boy   (Leroy Sibbles) - 2:53   rating: **** stars

'Country Boy' had previously been released as a 1974 single on Harry Johnson's small Jamaican Harry J.  It also saw a US release on Brad Osborne's small Bronx-based Clockwork label. The 1976 Danny Holloway remix stripped away a little of the original's rawness, adding a more prominent lead guitar and moving the drums up front.  Guess those moves were intended to appeal to Western tastes.  Always wondered what the song was about.

- 1974's 'Country Boy' b/w 'Version' (Harry J catalog number - none listed)

- 1976's 'Country Boy b/w 'Love Won't Come Easy' (Island catalog number WIP 6266)

2.) I've Got The Handle   (Leroy Sibbles) -  2:55   rating: **** stars

'I've Got the Handle' was a remake of one of the group's early rock steady tunes.  Recorded for their 1958 "On Top" LP, the track was originally entitled 'I Hold the Handle.'  Barry Llewellyn also recorded a solo version of the track in 1981.  

3.) Sweet Talkin'   (Leroy Sibbles) - 2:34   rating: **** stars

Originally released in 1969  on Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Jamaican Coxon label, the original 45 was pretty smooth, but the 1976 remake was like glass ...  Showcasing Sibbles on lead vocals, the remake stripped off some of the echo and showcased the simply awesome harmonies.




- 1969's 'Sweet Talkin' b/w 'Ob-La-De-Ob-La-Da' (Coxson catalog number - none)






4.) Book Of Rule   (Barry Johnson - Barry Llewellyn) - 3:30    rating: **** stars

Seemingly based on R .L. Sharpe's short poem "A Bag of Tools", 'Book of Rule' showcased the group's wonderful harmonies, some thought provoking lyrics and a magnificent bass line.  To my ears it may be the best thing they ever recorded.  The original was a hit back in 1973.





- 1973's 'Book of Rule' b/w 'Book of Rule" (Part 2) (Jaywax catalog number none)






5.) Mama Say   (Leroy Sibbles) - 3:12   rating: **** stars

Another remix.  The original was released as a 1975 single on Harry Johnson's Jaywalk label.  The 1976 Danny Holloway remix sounded like it kept the same vocal tracks, but added more guitar and some chirping female backing singers.  Musically 'Mama Say' was a great example of life-is-tough-in-Jamaica styled reggae.

- 1975's 'Mama Say' b/w 'Say Dub' (Jaywalk catalog number HJ-2527)

- 1976's 'Mama Say' b/w 'Love Won't Come Easy' (Island catalog number WIP)


(side 2)
Deceivers   (Barry Llewellyn) - 3:00

Written by and showcasing  Llwewellyn on lead vocals, the slinky 'Deceivers' is a personal favorite.  It was also one of the tracks where Holloway saw fit to add some needless strings to the mix.   It's also a great example of how hard it is to figure out Jamaican discographies.  There are at least two 12" 45  versions of the song.

- 1977's 'Deceivers' b/w 'Meaning of Life' (Phase 1 catalog number P 78)

- 1977's 'Decievers' b/w 'Meaning of Life' (Saggitaris catalog number SUS 5A) - yes they managed to misspell the title

2.) Love Won't Come Easy   (Leroy Sibbles) - 2:53 

A sweet ballad, 'Love Won't Come Easy' was another remix of an early rocksteady single.  This time the remix appeared to include a new vocal track and extra keyboards and guitar.

- ' Love Won't Come Easy' b/w ' Love Won't Come Easy,Part 2' (Coxson catalog number - none listed)

3.) Fatty Fatty  (Ken Boothe) - 3:36   rating:*** stars

Signed by Clement Coxson to his Studio 1 label, this one was Included on their 1967 debut LP "The Heptones."  The track was originally entitled 'Fattie Fattie', but when released as their first single for the label it was listed as 'Fatty Fatty.'  A "split single, the flip side was by a young Delroy Wilson ('Mother Word'). Today the lyrics lean in the direction of being incredibly sexist and unlikely to get anywhere the airwaves in this PC era.   A radical remake, the 1976 version retained the questionable lyrics, but slowed the track down to a crawl and slathered some needless strings on top of the arrangement.  One of the remakes that was a step back.




- 1967's 'Fatty Fatty' b/w 'Mother Word' (Studio 1catalog number SO 2014-A/B)







4.) Baby I Need Your Lovin'   (Lamont Dozier - Eddlie Holland - Brian Holland) - 3:36   rating: **** stars

One of the "new" songs, yes it was a remake of the classic Four Tops hit.  The Four Tops version is the all-time standard, but their light-hearted Carribbean tinged arrangement was enjoyable.  Wasn;t going to make you forget Levi Stubbs and company, but fun.

5.) In The Groove  (Leroy Sibbles - Clement Dodd) - 2:39  rating: *** stars

The bouncy 'In the Groove' was another C.S. Dodd produced single.  It was one of those "split" 45s - the flip side 'Get In the Version' credited to Sound Dimension.  Released in the States on the Brooklyn-based Studio One label, the  track was also one of their first US releases.

- 'Get In the Groove' b/w 'Get In the Version' (Coxson catalog number CS-1062)

- 'Get In the Groove' b/w 'Get In the Version' (Studio One catalog number CS-1062)