Congos Lion Treasure

Lion Treasure gets off to a bumpy start with a poorly recorded and somewhat annoying onstage introduction of the Congos. It also has badly written and uninformative liner notes. But it's hard to hold these small slip ups against this otherwise flawless collection of roots reggae. Best known for their legendary Lee Perry produced Heart of the Congos album, this vocal trio is led by Cedric Myton's mystical falsetto. This best-of album highlights many of the band's strongest tracks over 30 years ("Fisherman,” "Solid Foundation,” "Children Crying" and "Open The Gates" are all from Heart of the Congos), as well as previously unreleased material. Of these, "Feast of the Passover,” an unreleased version written by saxophonist Tommy McCook, is pure gold with its heavy rhythm and infectious lyric. Other tracks, such as "Don't Blame it on I," written by Myton in 1976 after getting arrested in Kingston, are halting in their Ital qualities. Myton's voice gives an eerie solemn texture to many of the songs adding a measure of stately meditation fitting for a group of devote Rastas. Most of the tracks are Rasta polemics, and even with the steady pounding of the bass and drum urging you to dance, and the intermittent dub effects and tenor horn blasts, it's hard to not feel somewhat devotional listening to them. (Independent)