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The Way It Is

I Kong

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Album Review

Originally issued in 1978, The Way It Is was the only album recorded by Errol Kong, nephew of the famous Jamaican producer Leslie Kong. Almost 30 years later, it sounds like both a product of its time and an anomaly. The eight tracks (expanded for this reissue with dub versions of seven of them, along with one unrelated dub track) were recorded at Harry J's studio and at Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark, and carry the sonic imprints of both studios — however, the song arrangements are also highly unusual for the roots reggae music of the time. The album's lead track and first single, "Ghetto Cry," boasts an unusually complex chord progression for 1970s reggae (a period when many reggae songs were simple two-chord constructions), and "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" is, despite its title and admonitory lyrics, as soft and gushy a song as you could want — if the Carpenters had converted to Rastafarianism, their songs would have sounded something like this one. "I Wish (We'll All Be Ready)" incorporates French horns, while "Life's Road" presses nyahbinghi drums, varied percussion, and horns into the service of a wet, multi-layered sound that evokes both Black Ark and early Ras Michael. Kong's voice is strong throughout, and if a couple of songs are relatively weak in lyrical terms, the consistently strong dub versions generally make up for it. Recommended.

The Way It Is, I Kong
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