Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Listen to ARK OF THE COVENANT (Original Mix) by The Congos.

For a week I've immersed myself in the world of the ancient Hebrews reading this fantastic book, "How To Read The Bible," by Harvard's James Kugel. It's a one volume survey course on biblical studies, just like the ones we had to take at Baylor. I can't recommend it enough. The text (for the generalist) is excellent, but the endnotes (for the academic) are wild. I'd occasionally flip back to them and the amount of scholarship that goes into any given biblical verse is heavy, man.

You might think it's an awkward pivot from Bible studies to Jamaican music, but only if you had never listened to roots reggae. And in particular, "Heart Of The Congos" by the Congos. This album is drenched. Drenched in echo, drenched in haunting vocal harmonies, drenched in Rastafarian religious imagery.

"Even the ants / Safe in a Noah sugar-pan"

Ark Of The Covenant has been my favorite track from this album for a few years. Roy Johnson's conflation of the "Ark of the Covenant" (Numbers 10:33) with "Noah's Ark" (Deuteronomy 31:26) would be a little daft to somebody like Professor Kugel, but to me it's seamless and inventive. That's mainly because of the way his pleading tenor interweaves with Cedric Myton's falsetto. Not to mention Lee Perry's oft-mentioned production...

It's a beautiful song. And for most of you, this mix is totally new. It's shorter, relatively austere compared to the definitive Blood and Fire issue. Have at it, Ark Of The Covenant, highlight from the best album ever released in Jamaica. Possibly.

Photo: Silver Towers (2).


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