The Congos – Heart of the Congos (1977)

“Lee Perry is generally acknowledged as a production genius, but on occasion that genius can be destructive, and while there’s no disputing his talent, sometimes the results can be less than aurally satisfying. This is especially true when it comes to albums, where Perry’s efforts were often erratic. On Heart of the Congos he was brilliant, and across the record’s original ten tracks Perry created a masterpiece of music. Many critics consider this 1977 album one of the best roots records of all time, and at the very least, it was Perry’s apex — only Junior Byles’ Beat Down Babylon is an equal contender. Which is why it’s all the more shocking that the record was turned down by Island, and even back in Jamaica it received only a limited release. It took nearly two decades for Heart of the Congos to reappear, finally reissued with a clutch of period bonus tracks by Blood and Fire. The Congos themselves seem the least-likely contenders to record an exceptional album with Perry. …”

Black Sun Rising: The Congos Interviewed
“‘Fisherman’, the most famous song by The Congos and the opening track from Heart Of The Congos, is well known and loved enough to be considered an absolute classic within the relatively large field of vocal reggae. Bizarrely however, it is rarely heard outside of that context. Everything is present and correct for not just this song but the album as well to be rightly considered high watermarks of Jamaican music. Heart Of The Congos was produced during 1976 and 1977 by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry in his Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica. House band, The Upsetters, were on unbeatable form, containing as they did Ernest Ranglin, Sly Dunbar, Mikey Boo, Boris Gardiner, Geoffrey Chung and Winston Brubeck amongst other peerless musicians. The song writing was pre-eminent, with the unusually long gestation period of three years helping shape this process as well as the writing of the vividly imagistic ‘chuchical’ lyrical content. … (Video)
The Quietus

“Heart of the Congos is a roots reggae album by The Congos, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio with a studio band including Boris Gardiner on bass and Ernest Ranglin on guitar. The album was released in 1977. It is noted as being one of Perry’s masterpiece productions of the Black Ark era. …”

YouTube: Fisherman, Solid Foundation, Ark of the Covenant, Open Up The Gate, Children Crying


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