Heptone

The Heptones recorded several killer reggae albums in the 70s, always driven by their gorgeous, multi-part harmonies.  Their song “I Miss You” came out as a single in 1973 — although the group had been recording for almost eight years at this point, they had only released two or three full-length albums.  “I Miss You” is a cover of a fraught 1972 ballad from the Philadelphia soul group Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, who got most of their material from the famous production/songwriting team Gamble and Huff.  The original is over eight minutes long, with Teddy Pendergrass (who went on to a sucessful solo career with disco/steamy slow-jams/”Love T.K.O” in the second half of the 70s) singing lead and tearing into a series of tragic lines as the rest of the Blue Notes provide sad, quietly respectful backing lyrics.  There’s an extended spoken-word portion, and the whole thing is bathed in strings and faded screams.  The Heptones take a different approach, condensing the song into a compact, bouncy nugget.  A great song works in any form.

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