The CongosHeart Of The Congos

Label:Black Art – none
Vinyl, LP, Album
Style:Roots Reggae


A3Open Up The Gate
A4Children Crying
A5La La Bam-Bam
B1Can't Come In
B2Sodom & Gomorrow
B3The Wrong Thing
B4Ark Of Covenant
B5Solid Foundation

Companies, etc.



Special thanks to The Meditations for the Backing Voices (sleeve note).

This LP features the first mix which has a dryer sound and fewer effects than the later mix with only a little reverb, delay and phasing added.

Original first-pressing sleeve has blue vertical bars. Some sleeves were handpainted by Jah Wise to cover up the blue bars with yellow.

Artist is spelled as "The Congos" on the sleeve and "The Congoes" on the labels. Title is also given as "Heart Of The Congos" on the sleeve and "Heart Of The Congo Man" on the labels.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Side A runout, etched): LP-4049-A
  • Matrix / Runout (Side B runout, etched): LP-4049-B

Other Versions (5 of 56)

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Title (Format)LabelCat#CountryYear
New Submission
Heart Of The Congos (LP, Album)Black ArtnoneJamaica1977
New Submission
Heart Of The Congos (LP, Album, Yellow paint)Black ArtnoneJamaica1977
Recently Edited
Heart Of The Congos (LP, Album)Congo AshantynoneJamaica1978
New Submission
Heart Of The Congos (LP, Album, Green/white labels)Black ArtnoneJamaica1978
New Submission
Heart Of The Congos (LP, Album, Mask-design labels)Black ArtnoneJamaica1978


  • seven-seals-sound's avatar
    i think people who not know should simply not judge or tell.....................................

    4049 amazing 1st press , scarce , rare and any money can be okay for a cleanpress if like the music.
    • sevendubwarrior's avatar
      the 4049 is simply the best roots lp ever produced...the first press is dry and its never get boring nor is it almost imposssible to overlisten it....the 4049 both labels grey and standart white are pressed clean and no crackles in the first stampers series...
      who ever has crakle free clean copy should keep it holy as very few perfect 4049 exist still......
      not only for reggae lovers a milesstone production lp , dark and amazing...thank you upsetter for that outstanding moment of the 70s.........
      • Poeshaas's avatar
        Edited 5 years ago
        Some nice background info on this album (taken from a blogspot called 'sweet rare reggae music')


        The Congos, Roy Johnson and Cedric Myton, recorded what has become a landmark in roots reggae and the benchmark for all who came after, when they collaborated with master producer Lee Perry at his Black Ark studio in Kingston Jamaica in 1977.


        Cedric Myton began his music career as a member of the rocksteady era group The Tartans with Devon Russell and Lincoln Thompson in the mid-sixties but he was largely inactive throughout much of the seventies, only recording sporadically with The Royal Rasses.

        Myton had met Lee Perry during this early period when Scratch was working at Studio One and then again in the mid-seventies when The Tartans cut the single "Woman Is A Contradicition" at The Black Ark with Perry on production.

        Roydel Johnson also had history with Lee Perry, having grown up in the same small town, Kendal in Hanover, Roy remembers seeing Scratch and recalls his dancing skills of the time.
        Roy moved to Kingston at the age of 16 and would hang around the music studios meeting the likes of Gladdy Anderson, Winston Wright and Ernest Ranglin who taught Roy to play guitar.
        After a stint in the US Navy, stationed in the now infamous Guantanamo Bay, Roy returned to Kingston in the early seventies and again began hanging around studios in the hope that someone would record him.

        Lee Perry gave him an early chance by inviting the singer to record the track "Standing On The Hill" but Scratch was unhappy with the final sound and recorded the track with Chenley Duffus instead.
        Roy went off to improve his guitar skills in the hope that maybe he could make it as a session musician rather than a singer. He briefly joined The Rightful Brothers band where he improved on his guitar playing and learned to become a skilled hand drummer.

        The story then goes that some six years later, while Roy was sitting in the gardens of his home strumming his guitar, Lee Perry turned up to purchase a bread-fruit tree and overheard him singing.
        The song went "Row fisherman row...keep on rowing your boat" and an impressed Scratch told Roy to come by his studio to maybe record the song.

        Cedric Myton had by this point (mid-seventies) become a devout Rastafarian and was a member of a Nyabinghi religious order in Kingston. Roy Johnson also joined this order and the two of them would sell clothing items to dreads to make some cash.

        When Lee Perry invited Roy to come by the Black Ark the pair arrived as a duo around the summer of 1977 and set to work on the song "Fisherman".
        The first version however was considered poor by all involved and so Scratch arranged for the two of them to return the next day with a different set of musicians.

        It was during the sessions that followed that The Congos would record some of their greatest songs and Scratch would help shape one of the finest albums he ever created at the Black Ark.

        Songs like "Open Up The Gate", "Sodom and Gomorrow"and "Solid Foundation" are all powerful Rasta statements. The Congos would tackle issues ranging from the forces of Babylon, Christianity and the political workings of both in their songwriting, incorperating Biblical references to emphasize the work.

        The production from Scratch adds to the power of the songs, this was the Black Ark sound at it's peak in creativity and Scratch would work non-stop for days to get what he wanted from the music.
        Lee Perry saw something in the Congos and in the songs they had written and he truely wanted to get the best out of the group and push the message given by the songs lyrics.

        Watty Burnett, a regular figure at the studio, joined the group at this point as Perry thought his deep barritone vocal would help add a further dimension to the overall sound of The Congos.
        Watty had recorded a number of singles with Perry but none of them were selling in numbers until his cover of a Brook Benton tune adapted to become "Rainy Night In Portland" sold well.

        Watty had asked Scratch if he could remain a solo singer but Perry told him to stick with The Congos as he felt this could be the album that would break big like Perry's previous hit albums from Max Romeo (War Ina Babylon), The Heptones (Party Time), Junior Murvin (Police And Thieves) and George Faith (To Be A Lover) which had all been picked up by Chris Blackwell's Island Records and given widespread distribution.

        To further shape the vocal sound of the album Perry brought in members of The Heptones and The Meditations to provide harmonies and also the late great Gregory Isaacs, who was also recording at the Black Ark during this period and appears on the song "La La Bam Bam Bam".

        The Congos album was coming together and Scratch would spend more time on this production then any of his previous efforts.

        As The Congos were spending more and more time around Lee Perry they began to influence him and other people at the studio with their deep Nyabinghi religious beliefs. Watty Burnett became a member of the order and Scratch himself had begun to knot up his hair, eat more healthy foods and excerise.

        More and more dreadlocked members of the Nyabinghi also began to assemble around the Black Ark, conducting rituals. smoking large quantities of herb and having long discussions into the night.

        Lee Perry issued the first few singles by The Congos, some of which on his new disco-cork imprint with extended dub versions and Island Records picked up on these. Chris Blackwell is said to have been particularly fond of the song "Congoman" and expressed an interest in a full album release by the group despite getting mixed reviews from the British press.

        Island records released a number of singles for Perry during this period by other Black Ark artists of the time such as George Faith, Keith Rowe and Lord Creator. Island even sent British rock artist, the late Robert Palmer, to the Black Ark to record some songs, although Palmer is said to have been troubled by the menecing presence of the seemingly anti-white Nyabinghi members who were hanging around the studio during his time there.

        Indeed the influence of the Nyabinghi Order at the Black Ark was growing strong and Lee Perry was unable to do much about the many unwanted visitors to his home. It was starting to frustrate him and more importantly interrupt his recording sessions.

        In late 1977, many months after the first recording sessions with the Congos, "Heart Of The Congos" was finally released in very small quantities on Perry's Black Art label. The cover of these first editions had a picture of Cedric Myton and Roy Johnson (Watty Burnett was not present during the photo-shoot) and some had hand-painted yellow stripes down the borders covering the blue stripes printed on the covers.

        This first edition contained 10 of what Perry believed were the best of the songs recorded by The Congos and the mix was noticeably different from the version most of us know as the definitive second edition.

        The vocals have been left untouched, there is more emphasis on Keith Sterling's wondeful piano work which stands out and there is minimal echo, delay and reverb added. The most noticeable aspect is the lack of phasing and sound-effects that had been present on Perry's previous albums.

        It could be that these first edition, early pressings were kind of like a demo of what was to come, just basic mixes of tracks that Lee Perry would put a great deal of effort into remixing for it's official release. After all Perry had done this before, releasing "Scratch The Super Ape" before it's official Island release "Super Ape" with a slightly differing mix and George Faith's "To Be A Lover" was released as "Super Eight" before it's international Black Swan Island subsidiary issue.

        Chris Blackwell travelled to Jamaica to discuss the terms of a full "Heart Of The Congos" album release on Island Records but eventually left empty handed. It's not really known what happened during this discussion but Blackwell has later said that he just didn't think it was good enough!

        So Lee Perry went back to the studio and began to dramatically change the mix of the album, adding excessive amounts of echo, reverb, his trademark phasing techniques and all kinds of sound-effects, crashing symbols and of course the haunting 'mooing' cow noises!

        Perry became obsessed with getting the album right which began to effect his work with other artists. Ill-fated projects such as a full album by resident Black Ark female trio Full Experience and a solo album by member Candy McKenzie didn't receive Perry's full attention. Second albums by Junior Murvin and George Faith failed to gain momentum and Lee Perry's own "Roast Fish, Collie Weed and Cornbread" album feels unfinished and Perry seems under pressure.

        Indeed Lee Perry was under pressure, after completing his final mix of "Heart Of The Congos" he sent the tapes to Island Records, along with Candy McKenzie's solo album and his own solo effort "Roast Fish Collie Weed and Cornbread" but Chris Blackwell made his decision and Island refused to release any of the material Perry had sent.

        It's unclear what made Island turn their back on Perry, although it's said that the quality of the tapes Perry sent to Island were not brilliant, it's doubtful that this reason alone is cause enough and since it's eventual release "Heart Of The Congos" has sold in incredible numbers worldwide on labels such as Go-Feet, VP and the definitive release on Blood And Fire.

        Many reasons have been suggested including that Island records were more concerned in promoting Bob Marley and would shelve albums by other reggae artists, this claim is made by The Congos as well as Max Romeo and others who's follow up albums were poorly promoted by the label.
        Some claim that albums by Junior Murvin, George Faith and others recorded at the Black Ark are still languishing in the vaults of Island headquarters.

        Either way when Island refused to release the album it certainly caused problems for The Congos and Lee Perry who had a major falling out. The Congos left the Black Ark and Perry blamed the influence of the Nyabinghi dreads for casting an evil spell on his studio and began to drive them out with his crazy antics including driving around with pork on his car roof and scrawling "Satan the devil lives here" on the walls of his entrance.

        The Congos would go on to record for other producers and of course Perry would go on to burn down his studio to 'cleanse it from evil spirits'.

        The time they spent together gave us this remarkable album, a piece of reggae history and one of the greatest albums of all time.

        This is the original first edition of "Heart Of The Congos", the first mix that had only a very small release on the Black Art label in 1977. In fact we believe this version of the album has never received a re-issue!

        The more familiar second mix (with the extraordinary and powerful production added by Lee Perry) has been issued a number of times on labels such as Go-Feet (UK), Congo Ashanty (Jamaica/US), Jah Live (France) and VP Records (International). The best and most definitive is available on the Blood And Fire label.
        • mica-hel's avatar
          I have listened to 2 vinyl editions. Africa Live one is hard like stone which is what reggae is meant to sound like with the vocals beautiful and pure. The Go Feet one is weaker and not as extreme. I prefer the Africa Live one.
          • Pablo5001's avatar
            THIS 4049 is DRY,its straight,its pure

            few 4049 in near mint exist so if you get a NR copy 2000usd is absolutly worth this all time best album..should be even higher in 4049 mix at new condition.......
            reggae won t get any better again........sure.
            • sevenstar08's avatar
              tuff to find any better deep roots album...u find dubs but in the deep roots reggae i can t name any better full lp than the 4049
              1st press mixxes........if there is magic -this is!
              • roootsnatty's avatar
                I haved the to first relesses maybee not first printed with the yellow paint but on the same sleeve blue and same label LP-4049-A
                heart of the congo man the congoes.

                I also have the secod press i think its the typical black art label seen on many omar perry new print 7inch very beautiful its adds with some cow sounds, and i thinks he did new mixes when island refused too relese this album cris blackwell island records thinking its was too dark and to rasta to sel.
                Becouse of the other releses like war ina babylon max romeo , heptones - partytime , george faith - to be a lover original super eight on his own label, also junior murvin - police and thives , super ape and jah lions colombia colly al this albums first relesed own upsetter label first pressing.

                Late 1977 when the black ark sound was long before its time and on its top , as i saw perry took his new record to chris blackwell, but blackwell refouse it saying its to rasta too dark, things like that.

                Lee perry who had take cedric myton how has been a part of the tartans "rocksteady group with prince lincoln devon irons russel" cedric how meet roydel johnson how was more of a nyahbinghi guy how had played with ras michaels sons of negus.

                They have meet either and wantet to go to the upsetter and try if thy could record someting.

                Cedrics strong falsetto voice "like murvin" and Roydel with strong tenor voice was a perfect match and perry took the best voice singer for harmony " gregory isaacs , candy mckenzie the meditations, heptones" and the strong baritone voiceed Watty burnett how had recored song before with perry.

                Maybee the world wasnt ready for it , but ohhh what a mistake , beeing today ranked as the best reggae albums ever made for me how have listen to all kind of music from motown and all its artist michael jackson all the 90s hiphop , all the early chigago house to all new prod deep house also loves techno , loved pop the beatles yes all kind of music even hardrock physrock i love all good music ever made , but this album is for me the best of the best the prod the lyrics the magic ark sound in that year with his old equipment , more and amazing, yehh now its getting long , if you had read this far with my bad spelling of english (am from sweden)

                Perry get so made when his new super album been refused by island records and chris blackwell he press his own this on heart of the congo man 1977 blackart the first ones with the yellowgold thing , and then on the second press he add more sounds and little diffrent mixes to it like this cow sounds not seen on the first press to get blackwell to take it again.

                Still island refuesed the album and the press made the red black ark label and also change the organ credit from winston riley to winston wright , also the piano credit from keith stewart to keith sterling , the he was so mad he even added more sounds to the album and new mixed later preesed on by the congos.

                THIS IS THEN THE ARK STARTED TOO get a little mad , perry and the congos get very upset, and it was alot of bad vibes and hate .
                They gone diffrent ways , everyone how knows about perry , know he was mad !!!

                Sure the black ark studio was with perry prod many super singles in 78 but there was too dark in the ark.

                Gangesters and weird people beening there all the time , think perry took alot of drugs.

                Perry prod some more albums like jolly brothers and full experience candy in the same grop did a album and two werid congo african guys but thats a diffrent story , nown of these albums pressed before long time after aa full experience ep was on the blue monn 78 but candy mckenzie is came out a year ago and jolly brothers hows album was mad in a week been one of best prod from the ark .

                I think there where a dennis brown album, george faith and junior murvins jah lion candy mckenzy even more could have been made in 78 but there where never to been relesed :(((

                Perry made too own albums 78 the wikked return of the super ape and the even more wicked roast fish and collie weed and cornbread booth very crazy but still top albums

                I think a very mad perry , on the roast fish he had many hate songs , evil tongues its about the congs are vampires also made the judgement ina babylon to chris crack blackwell

                congos press the album in 79 on jah live with more sounds and little diffrent versions

                and then the album beening pressed on many labels with many differens mixes

                I think personal that if island have taken the album perry had produced , more albums after the heart of the congos haved been relesed , when the ark sound was on top :((((

                sorry for bad english and spelling

                • seewhyaudio's avatar
                  This is the first ever released version, and it is notable for a very important reason: The audio mix is very different from the 'standard' mix that appeared on all subsequent LP pressings from Jamaica and the rest of the world up to and including the Blood and Fire release.

                  Lee Perry was slightly unhappy with the audio on this project and remixed it, adding a great deal in the way of sound effects and treatments.

                  Some might say this first issue is a more authentic roots album because it has less of the 'hand of Scratch' about it, but some might say precisely the opposite.

                  It's certainly quite different.



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