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Album Review

Purportedly the definitive Lee "Scratch" Perry compilation, the three-CD set Arkology is loaded with good intentions and is carefully constructed, but with a back catalog like Perry's — where it's nearly impossible to find out what's what — definitive in this case is a dream. Still, the compilers have done a fine job of providing an overview of Perry's career that makes sense musically, historically, and culturally. For those who want to jump headlong into Perry's world, this is the way to go. (Otherwise, buying two to three individual releases would be recommended.) Arkology's foundation is the 1979 anthology Scratch on the Wire; the compilers took those tracks and added a significant number of remixes and a few previously unreleased dub tracks to give it some weight. And that is perhaps the set's biggest drawback; it doesn't cover quite enough of Perry's career. Remixes are nice, but a representative sampling of the early, mid-, and late periods at Black Ark would have been better, as well as a few of the early-'60s ska tracks that didn't make it onto Heartbeat's excellent Chicken Scratch compilation. There are also some irritating audio considerations here; sometimes reggae reissues lose that warm, extremely loud bass sound that is crucial to the riddims. That's not always the case on this release, but there are some moments when you wish there was just a little more blood coming from the speakers. So, all that said, is Arkology worth it? Absolutely. Don't think that this large purchase will give you all the crucial Lee "Scratch" Perry recordings; it provides a good overview and is an excellent introduction, but consider it the start, rather than the completion, of your journey with Scratch and the Upsetters.

Biography

Born: 20 March 1936 in Hanover, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Some call him a genius, others claim he's certifiably insane, a madman. Truth is, he's both, but more importantly, Lee Perry is a towering figure in reggae — a producer, mixer, and songwriter who, along with King Tubby, helped shape the sound of dub and made reggae music such a powerful part of the pop music world. Along with producing some of the most influential acts (Bob Marley & the Wailers and the Congos to name but two) in reggae history, Perry's approach to production and dub mixing...
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Arkology, Lee "Scratch" Perry
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