Seven Letters – The Singles Collection

by Mar 5, 2024Artist, Reviews

Seven Letters - The Singles Collection

Release Info

Label
Aggrobeat Records
Format
LP
Street date
December 15, 2023
Contact
Website Record Label

Tracklist
A1 Please Stay
A2 Special Beat
A3 Flour Dumpling
A4 Equality
A5 Call Collect
A6 Mama Me Want Gal
A7 Sentry

B1 Soul Crash
B2 Throw Me Things
B3 There Goes My Heart
B4 Wish
B5 Bam Bam Baji
B6 Hold Him Joe

The Bees, The Pyramids, Symarip, Seven Letters

The narrative behind the album The Singles Collection by Seven Letters takes listeners on an exciting journey through the history of British reggae. It all began in the mid-1960s with The Bees, a band comprised of Roy Ellis, Frank Pitter, Mick Thomas, and Monty Neysmith. The group quickly gained popularity as a backing band for renowned artists like Owen Gray, Nicky Thomas, The Ethiopians, and Laurel Aitken. Their collaboration with Aitken resulted in the recording of their debut single, Jesse James Rides Again, under the Blue Beat label.
Following a triumphant tour alongside Prince Buster, Eddy Grant assumed responsibility for the band and, due to contractual obligations, they began performing as The Pyramids. Unfortunately, this collaboration did not go as planned, leading them to join Graeme Goodall’s label, Doctor Bird. In a clever twist, the name Pyramids was reversed, and the letter ‘d’ was omitted, resulting in the birth of Symarip. Under Doctor Bird’s guidance, the band recorded numerous tracks, among them the popular hits Skinhead Moonstomp and Skinhead Girl.
At a certain juncture, Graeme proposed recording individual tracks under the moniker Seven Letters to avoid releasing all material under Symarip. The name Seven Letters was chosen because Symarip contained 7 letters! A total of eight singles were put out under this name, with one missing from the current collection. Due to the absence of most master tapes, the original singles were utilized, although one remained elusive. The tracks have been remastered and the album includes detailed liner notes.

The Singles

The record kicks off with a powerful rendition of Please Stay, originally a lesser-known track by Doreen Campbell, Prince Buster’s sibling. The lyrics, which touch on a love at risk of fading away, are supported by a lively riddim that will have you grooving in no time. Special Beat, the B-side to the preceding track, is a fast-paced instrumental piece featuring a delightful trumpet solo. In the song Flour Dumpling, a man filled with impatience pleads for the delectable Flour Dumpling, his sole desire for a meal, while Equality on the flip side is a dynamic organ instrumental.
The instrumental track Call Collectwas featured as the B-side of Laurel Aitken’s single Heile Heile, which was released in 1969. The trumpet solo in the song bears a resemblance to the melody of Peanut Vendor. Then there’s the humorous track Mama Me Want Gal and its flip side, Sentry. Unlike the other singles, this one was released on JJ Records, another label owned by Graeme Goodall. The heart-wrenching ballad There Goes My Heart stands out for its melancholic and tender melody. On the other hand, Wish is a lively instrumental piece showcasing exceptional horn work.
Soul Crash features some incredible organ solos and is believed to be inspired by a King Curtis track from the early 1960s. Following this track is Throw Me Things, the B-side of the previous song, which has a more relaxed vibe with the organ taking the lead once again. Closing the album is Bam Bam Baji, a delightful tune with roots in a calypso song from the 1950s. In 1964, a rendition titled Bado Man was released on Prince Buster’s label. The album wraps up nicely with the flipside of the single, Hold Him Joe.

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Soul Crash

Special Beat

There Goes My Heart

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