The Congos & Pura Vida – Morning Star
The Congos & Pura Vida – Morning Star
- Teach Dem
- Jah Love
- Nobody Choose Life
- Life Can Be Heard
- Morning Star
- It’s All Over Now
- In The Ghetto
- Don’t Stress It
- Dub Love
Pura Vida / The Congos
The respect and attention that European producers/groups give to veteran JA singers/groups is well deserved. The collaborations consistently end up with Royal results. The link has been strong for many years now. One prime example is the unity between Belgium’s Pura Vida and The Congos. The just released, “Morning Star” is the second album featuring the two powerful groups. The integrity of King’s Music embraced with manners and respect.
Pura Vida’s frontman Bregt De Boever (Puraman) met The Congos in 2009; when the Belgium based collective’s debut, “Struggle In The City” was elevating the atmosphere. The Congo’s Ashanti Roy (Roydel Johnson) and Puraman instantly hit it off and the rest is history. Ashanti Roy has been largely impactful in the progress of Pura Vida’s “Lost Ark Studio” and label; a bond that continues to this day. The label’s debut release was Pura Vida & The Congos’ “We Nah Give Up (2011), a masterpiece that initiated other classics. Lost Ark Music continued their productions with Zion vision. Two Ashanti Roy collaborations ensued; “Hard Road” (2012) and “Step By Step” (2014). During this time, Bregt and crew relocated to Last Ark Studio with further success. Courtesy of Roydel, Bregt linked with Lee Perry (a huge inspiration) and released a mighty album with The Upsetter in 2015. Ever active, Pura Vida ignites the stage (w/Congos/Ashanti Roy/Lee Perry) and creates Royal music with solid Pura Vida sets; Pura Vida & Bleue-Into The Blue” (2017) and numerous projects in the works. The Belgium-JA connection is strong….
Singers & Players of Instruments
“Morning Star” is a seamless collection of 6 Congos tracks, 3 Pura Vida offerings and one crucial Dub. These days, The Congos are a quartet (Cedric Myton/Ashanti Roy/Watty Burnett and Kenroy Ffyffe (true veteran whose career can be traced back to The Eternals and joined the group about a decade ago). Music was recorded at Last Ark Studio with Pura Vida’s riddim makers in full effect. Drums by Puraman, Xan Albrecht and Horsemouth Wallace (one of Puraman’s biggest inspirations). Bass by Puraman, Boris Perck and Ashanti Roy. Guitars by Puraman, Wouter Rosseel and Ashanti Roy. Organs by Bos Debusscher and Puraman. Crucial horn section of Pieter De Naegel (trombone), Mathieu Vilain (trumpet) and Yorgi Gritzelis/Karel Desmaele (sax). Percussion by Puraman and Kenroy; with melodica by Puraman. The majority of Pura Vida has remained intact over the years; skilled musicians indeed! Puraman adds his timeless mixing with longtime producer Poddington Krank still on board. Honorable mention to Maarten De Boever (Puraman’s brother); who has kept the vibes flowing for years.
“Teach Dem” is a Royal track that recalls The Congo’s finest moments. Melodica and Nyahbinghi tones give way to a Black Ark caliber riddim with triumphant horns. Cedric’s falsetto leads the way with glorious tenor and baritone harmonies. Puraman was heavily inspired by their landmark debut and the true levels are front and centre. “Jah Love” is a searing Roots piece. Pura Vida delivers a driving riddim with Ashanti Roy rolling and Cedric soaring. The quartet’s vocal arrangements are Zion clad and cooperate hand in hand with The Black Ark atmosphere. Superb arrangements from lyrics to riddim. “Nobody Choose Life” is a Pura Vida gem. Puraman delivers Inna soulful style-“Nobody chose Life, Life chose us.” Crucial riddim with masterful guitar and sax work; giving a Bluesy feel to this thoughtful track.
“Life Can Be Hard” is the second Pura Vida offering. Puraman’s vocals are hearty tones; possibly chanting of personal Life experience. A pulsing early Reggae riddim that’s mixed clean and crisp. The textured harmonies elevate this worthy song. The title track is sheer brilliance! Ashanti Roy takes lead vox, evoking memories of his classic “Sign Of The Star” album from 1980. He plays bass and guitar on this uplifting song. Before joining The Congos, the veteran played guitar for years. Taught by the maestro Ernest Ranglin O.D, Roydel played with Ras Michael and The Righteous Brothers (led by Yabby You). His skills fit just nice with the powerful riddim that detonates with Puraman’s drums and the masterful horn section. A beautiful song delivered with truth and conviction. Finger on rewind..
Versatility is in order with “It’s All Over Now.” The third Pura Vida track; it has the caliber of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” from 1986. A World Music feel with Wouter’s “hi-life” guitar, Bos’s organ and big sound from the horn section. Puraman inflects a soulful and Folk styled delivery that is truly crucial! The group has been expanding their sound over their last few albums with compelling results. Standout selection! “In The Ghetto” is classic Congos! Cedric’s falsetto has no ceiling and is Zionic. His fellow singers evoke deepest harmonies; principles of Africa all the way. The riddim is a full and rich platform, melodica and percussive tones in full splendor. Horsemouth Wallace elevates proper with his impeccable drum patterns. This pure Reality anthem given classic Upsetter treatment. Well oh well!
“Jahrusalem” is heavy duty. Watty Burnett’s baritone is showcased here. Over a Ska soaked musical backbone, the veteran exalts deep words of wisdom with the natural flow of JAH river. Dread a dread affair. Part of this album’s beauty is that each singer is given a track to shine on. Kenroy is pure and sweet on “Don’t Stress It.” As mentioned earlier, he sang with The Eternals. His output in the ’70’s and beyond is hard to find but he possesses one of the sweetest voices around. He’s Roots controller over the original riddim structure with wailing guitar and drum/bass flow. An uplifting anthem that’s pure fulljoyment. The album closes with “Dub Love” (“Jah Love”). The driving riddim is subject to a double Dub dose. Nuances of Lee Perry and Scientist touch this track well strong. Puraman and crew don’t carbon copy, they weave tradition and original thinking into a crucial blend.