There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
In 1977, Jamaican vocal duo the Congos recorded what would later be considered an essential reggae record, Heart of the Congos. Though the record was produced by eccentric genius Lee Scratch Perry at his Black Ark studio, which he would inexplicably burn to the ground in 1980 after having recorded six years worth of classic roots, lovers rock, and dub material there, Heart’s brilliance is due to the combined efforts of all involved. Perry took Cedric Myton’s sublime falsetto, Roy Johnson’s striking tenor, added backing vocals by sometime Congos baritone Watty Burnett and others, and grounded it with hypnotizing instrumentation from the Upsetters. He then used phase-shifting and knob-twirling reverb to give the tracks an otherworldly aura. Initially released and promoted haphazardly by Perry himself because he was feuding with his regular international distributor, Heart has been subsequently reissued a number of times, most definitively in this year’s package assembled by Blood and Fire U.K. Splitting with Perry after this debut, the Congos recorded several more albums and undertook various solo projects, none of which has achieved the same acclaim. Now together again with a new CD due in January, the Congos will try to recapture their moment. With Culture Shock at 8 p.m. at the Bayou, 3135 K St. NW. $12. (202) 333-2897. (Steve Kiviat)