September 1, 2008
Roots, Roots, Roots: “Fat Cook” – The Congos
The Congos first appeared on the roots scene (as a group) in 1977 with their Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry produced debut ‘Heart of the Congos’. The group worked essentially as a vocal trio, consisting of vocalists from the roots/reggae scene of the 1970s. They went through various incarnations throughout their long career, with Watty Burnett and Cedirc Myton’s unique falsetto (as demonstrated with devastating impact here) proving the constants. The track ‘Fat Cook’ did not appear until 2006 on a compilation called ‘Feast’ (see picture above).
This slice of heavyweight roots utilised the incredibly popular technique of re-vocalising pre-recorded rhythm tracks, using a 1982(?) cut from Don Carlos called ‘Late Night Blues’ (also included below) produced by the innovative Bunny Lee. I have also included a hard-hitting dub of the same rhythm from the legendary King Tubby.
Although Congo’s version may not be the original, I really think it is the best use of the rhythm as they approach it in a far more aggressive and scathing manner than Don Carlos, who brings a much softer attitude and subject matter to the track. This was a regular and a favourite in a weekly DJ set I used to do with a close friend and fellow music enthusiast of mine in a Nottingham bar. Enjoy.