Jamaican vocal harmony group The Congos are responsible for one of the best reggae albums ever made – Heart of The Congos. It surfaced in 1977 and showed the extraordinary talents of producer and engineer Lee Perry.
A full-blown masterpiece like Heart of The Congos is naturally hard to follow-up. Maybe one or two thought The Congos would manage to do it in 2010, when the album Back in the Black Ark was put out. This was a decent set, but no way near their debut, and felt more like a marketing gimmick.
But last year The Congos quietly dropped We nah Give Up – a 17 track double disc recorded and produced together with Belgian reggae rockers Pura Vida. This album is by far the best album by The Congos since their magnum opus back in the 70’s.
We nah Give Up is the brainchild of Pura Vida’s lead singer Bregt “Braithe” De Boever, and the blueprint of the set was laid in Jamaica.
The album boasts nine excellent cuts from the Congos with lead vocals shared between Cedric Myton’s falsetto, Congo Ashanti Roy’s tenor and Watty Burnett’s baritone as well as eight equally first-rate vocals and dubstrumentals from Pura Vida.
The atmospheric, steamy and hypnotizing Black Ark sound texture is present throughout the album. The vocals soar overhead the swirling instrumentation with sublime melodies and unexpected arrangements.
It’s a shame this album was so poorly marketed. Had I heard it last year it would have been put on my list of best albums of 2011. Anything else would have been an outrage.
We nah Give Up is available as a limited edition double LP from Lost Ark Music and as digital download.