Heart Of The Congos
(Blood and Fire)
Larks From The Ark
This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1996.
The name Lee Perry is synonymous with greatness in
reggae music. This musical renegade is best known for his
work as a producer, and in fact has produced some of the
greatest recordings to ever come from the Island of Jamaica.
In the late '70s this living legend was at his peak, and two
recent releases, "Heart Of The Congos" and "Larks From The
Ark" showcase his outstanding and creative talents.
"Heart Of The Congos," truly one of reggae's landmark
albums, was originally released in 1977 and is dominated by
Perry's trademark "underwater" sound. Background harmonies
from such great vocalists as The Meditations, Gregory Isaacs
and two-thirds of The Heptones perfectly supplement the
unique falsetto of Cedric Myton and the distinctive tenor of
Roydel Johnson, better known as The Congos. The result is an
album of epic proportions. A bonus disc featuring five
alternate tracks has been added and the result is an
exceptional package totalling over 1 1/2 hours of crucial
"Larks From The Ark" is another essential release as it
contains 18 obscure, yet tremendous tracks from various
artists, the majority of them compiled from Perry's two late
'70s classics, "Heart Of The Ark," Volumes 1 and 2. Starting
off with the incredible "Conscious Man" by the Jolly
Bothers, this disc simply doesn't let up, as it contains
over 70 minutes of the greatest reggae you'll ever hear.
Some of the other artists include Mystic Eyes, Keith Rowe,
Leroy Sibbles, Mikey Dread, Lord Creator and Perry himself.
Both of these releases were recorded at Perry's
infamous Black Ark Studios and capture a magical time in
reggae music. Lee Perry left an indelible mark on the
history of Jamaican music with his unique style and
brilliance, and if you have a chance to pick up either of
these "must have" releases, you're sure to understand why.
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