Monday, 11 June 2018

Lee "Scratch" Perry - Arkology

Chase the devil....


This is a 3CD compilation of roots reggae tracks produced by the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry and recorded at his own Black Ark Studios in Jamaica.



1. Dub Revolution Part One - Lee Perry & The Upsetters
2. One Step Forward - Max Romeo
3. One Step Dub - The Upsetters
4. Vampire - Devon Irons
5. Vamp A Dub - The Upsetters
6. Sufferer's Time - The Heptones
7. Sufferer's Dub - The Upsetters
8. Sufferer's Heights - Junior Dread
9. Don't Blame On I - The Congos
10. Much Smarter - The Meditations
11. Much Smarter Dub - The Upsetters
12. Life Is Not Easy - The Meditations
13. Life Is Not Easy Dub - The Upsetters
14. Tedious - Junior Murvin
15. War Ina Babylon - Max Romeo
16. Revelation Dub - The Upsetters
17. Mr. President - The Heptones & Jah Lion
18. Chase The Devil - Max Romeo


1. Dreadlocks In Moonlight - Lee Perry

2. Dread At The Mantrols - Mikey Dread
3. In These Times - Errol Walker
4. In These Times Dub - The Upsetters
5. Norman - Max Romeo
6. Police And Thieves - Junior Murvin
7. Magic Touch - Glen DaCosta
8. Soldier And Police War - Jah Lion
9. Grumblin' Dub - The Upsetters
10. Bad Weed - Junior Murvin
11. John Public - Errol Walker
12. John Public (Version) - Errol Walker & Enos Barnes
13. Roots Train - Junior Murvin
14. No Peace - The Meditations
15. No Peace Dub - The Upsetters
16. Rasta Train - Raphael Green
17. Party Time Part 2 - The Upsetters


1. Vibrate On - Augustus Pablo

2. Vibrator - The Upsetters
3. Bird In Hand - The Upsetters
4. Congoman - The Congos
5. Dyon Anasawa - The Upsetters
6. Rastaman Shuffle - The Upsetters
7. Why Must I - The Heptones
8. Make Up Your Mind - The Heptones
9. Closer Together - The Upsetter Review
10. Groovy Situation - Keith Rowe
11. Groovy Dub - The Upsetters
12. To Be A Lover (Have Some Mercy) - George Faith
13. Soul Fire - Lee Perry
14. Curly Locks - Lee Perry
15. The Feast Of The Passover - The Congos
16. Roast Fish & Cornbread - Lee Perry
17. Corn Fish Dub - The Upsetters

Although it purports to be a career-spanning anthology, it is not quite so. Most of the material is drawn from the classic roots reggae/punk crossover period of 1975-1979.  Perry produced a lot of stuff before those dates, but a lot of that would have been in the vein of Susan Cadogan's Hurt So Good - classic 70s reggae singles. The emphasis on here is definitely on the roots - Rasta consciousness material railing against Babylon, praising Jah and warning of "weepin', wailin' and a gnashin' of teet' ..", as exemplified on Rasta Train" by Raphael Green & Dr. Alimantado. That is not a bad thing as that is the period which probably saw the "dub" side of Perry, the master of studio experimentation, at its finest. If you think of Scratch, you think of him as a master of dub and roots cuts - big, bassy, pounding, speaker thumping, echoey, with that jangling percussion sound and innovative instrumentation such as the use of the melodica. Vibrator by The Upsetters definitely falls into this category. Notting Hill Carnival material, just as darkness is falling and those speakers start to vibrate under the Westway and the atmosphere gets just a little menacing. Another in this vein is the mesmerising Vibrate On which features Augustus Pablo on melodica. Life Is Not Easy Dub by The Vibrators is an example of a full, powerful, bassy dub, with weird animal noises and some "toasting" style vocals over a skanking guitar and thumping drum rhythm.

The rootsy classics on here are many - Max Romeo's iconic War Ina Babylon with its "Sipple Out Deh" refrain and One Step Forward, also Errol Walker's John Public. Then there are the several different incarnations of Junior Murvin's Police And Thieves riddim - the track itself, plus Soldier And Police War; the dub of Grumblin' Dub and Glen Da Costa's alluring saxophone version Magic Touch. Perry's Soul Fire, Curly Locks and the wonderfully atmospheric Dreadlocks In Moonlight are excellent contributions from the man himself, as also is the delightful Roast Fish & Cornbread. Then there is the classic Congoman by The Congos, Junior Murvin's Tedious and, in case all the roots and Rasta vibe is becoming too much then there is the marvellous, romantic almost "Lovers' Rock" of George Faith's To Be A Lover(Have Some Mercy). Do not forget The Heptones' uplifting, almost anthemic Sufferer's Time either.

A lot of the tracks are dubby versions of vocal tracks from the album, such as Revelation Dub which is the dub version of War Ina Babylon. Rather than plough through all of the compilation, a good thing to do is put it on "shuffle" and play half an hours' worth of righteous roots reggae.