Heart of the Congos
Though 1977’s Heart of the Congos is, arguably, the quintessential roots reggae album, its breathtaking innovations transcend genre limitations. Reggae had little precedent for the high, crystalline vocals of Cedric Myton and Ashanti Roy, much less Watty Burnett’s splendid rasping baritone. Tunes like “Congoman” are built around the pulse of a primitive rhythm box, but it’s embellished with a bassline that still sounds audaciously futuristic. On “Fisherman,” they paint a subtle portrait of Jamaican life while imparting a sense of overwhelming spiritual grandeur. And producer Lee “Scratch” Perry graced the album with some of his most visionary work.