Heptones - Hypocrite

A: The Heptones – Hypocrite

The Heptones – Hypocrite – False start version

B: Johnnie Lover – Straight to the head


One of the first things Lee Perry did, after leaving Studio One to become the engineer for Joe Gibbs, was record a song on which he attacked his former employer (“I am the Upsetter“, Amalgamated 1968). This kind of dissing would become a sort of a trademark for the Upsetter, as he also attacked Joe Gibbs and (much later) Island’s Chris Blackwell on record after breaking ties with them. The Heptones are less known for songs like that, if at all, but ‘Hypocrite’ actually does belong to this particular songbook, since it’s also directly aimed at their former employer.

As can be read in this interview Peter I conducted for Reggae-Vibes, Heptones leader Leroy Sibbles wasn’t exactly pleased with the way Studio One (and especially its headhoncho Coxsone Dodd) handled things moneywise and creditwise. When the group finally made the decision to leave the Brentford Road premises, they soon found themselves recording for Joe Gibbs.

Obviously the Studio One material the Heptones cut at Studio One is legendary, both in terms of quality as well as originality. Add to that the bassparts played and arranged by Leroy Sibbles for other Studio One performers, and you’re talking stuff of legends. Right up ’till this day the riddims created by and for the Heptones are revisited by recording artists all over the world. A legend like that is one of a kind and, naturally, the tracks the group recorded for Joe Gibbs are not part of that. But, that does in no way mean their output for the newly established producer wasn’t good. In fact, I like the tracks the group recorded after leaving Studio One far better than their earlier hits and albums. (Especially “Love without feeling” for Harry Mudie, 1973)

According to Leroy Sibbles ‘Hypocrite’ is aimed at Studio One engineer Sylvan Morris, who was Coxsone Dodd’s righthand man at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the song was actually written with a straight aim at mr. Dodd in the back of Leroy’s mind, because if he makes one thing clear (both in the interview with Peter I as well as on other occasions) it is that he wasn’t the biggest fan of the studio owner. On ‘Hypocrite’ he questions where the producer can go after he’s been cornered by the truth, which makes the song prophetic almost, as Studio One in the 70’s indeed had a flux of talent leaving the studio to seek out better opportunities (including Jackie Mittoo).

The Heptones would never be strictly tied to a studio or a producer ever again, but they did record a sizeable discography for Joe Gibbs, resulting in a string of 7″ releases and two albums worth of classic material: Heptones and friends part 1 (Jogibs / Trojan) and Heptones and friends part 2 (Attack). The first part is also known as ‘The Heptones meet the Now Generation’, which deservedly credits the backing band Joe Gibbs used at the time (Mikey Chung & Geoffrey Chung on guitar, Val Douglas on bass, Robbie Lyn and Earl Wire Lindo on keyboards, Martin Sinclair and Mikey “Boo” Richards on drums.) These albums are a great overview of what the Heptones were about at the time as they feature both early roots reggae, deep conscious sounds, hit medley’s and interesting soul covers (in a reggae mould); all sung in fine style and backed by a crisp and heavy sounding band that seemed eager to make a difference.

‘Hypocrite’ could be found on the first Heptones & friends album, but was also released as a 7inch. Unfortunately the promising b-side by dj Johnnie Lover has nothing to do with the Heptones’ track (although huge in its own right!), so that leaves, to my knowledge, two versions of ‘Hypocrite’ available. The Jogibs release is the straight version, but there is also a second version: it has a stop-and-come-again routine at the beginning. I’m not sure if the UK version on Green Door/Trojan has that gimmick or not (I don’t own that one) but the 90’s repress on Joe Gibbs Record Globe does feature it. Speaking of that particular re-issue: it’s worth picking up for the ‘Hypocrite’ intro, but you definitely need to snatch it up for the B-side, if you come across one, as it actually plays the very, very obscure dub of the only tune Lopez Walker (of Phase One fame) ever recorded for Gibbs: Lost in a dream.



Label: Jogibs (Ja) / Green Door (Trojan) (UK)
Release date: 1971
Matrix: DYNA JG 3150
Riddim: Heptones – Hypocrite

(originally posted on 07-07-12)



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