Outside of reggae circles, the Congos have never really had the recognition that they deserve. Inside of reggae circles they are widely held as being one of the most important vocal groups to emerge from Jamaica, and they have been responsible for some of the most beautiful and complex vocal roots anthems ever – such as ‘Row Fisherman Row’.
Their 1979 album called ‘Congo Ashanti’ was released in Jamaica, but also somehow managed to get picked up by CBS records in France.
Both had the same track listing, but they had very different album sleeves. We have featured both below, beginning with the Jamaican version.
This is the Jamaican 1979 release on Congo Ashanty Records. The black and white artwork, and bright yellow highlights on the edges gives the impression of someone trying to bring something dense and dark out from the shadows – which is a good metaphor for the music which is deep and complex.
By contrast, this is the CBS release which came out in the same year (see image below). The bigger marketing budget of CBS shines through in the quality of the photograph, which focuses on one of the Congos with water dripping of his thick dreads.
It’s a stunning photo in its own right.
The album is pure vocal roots, deep basslines, and well-crafted harmonies, and makes a great companion piece to the Congos classic ‘Heart of the Congos‘ which was released in 1977.
- Days Chasing Days
- Hail The World Of Jah
- Education Of Brainwashing
- Youth Man
- Thief Is In The Vineyard
The album was re-released again via the Blood & Fire label in 2003, and you really should add it to your collection if you haven’t already.
Listen to ‘Thief Is In The Vineyard’ by the Congos:
Listen to ‘Days Chasing Days’ by the Congos: