Lee "Scratch" Perry

Produced and Directed by the Upsetter

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Like most albums credited to Lee "Scratch" Perry, this one is actually a collection of performances by various reggae artists, some of them famous (the Heptones, the Meditations, Junior Murvin), others obscure (Easton Clarke, Winstone Heywood), but all of them touched by that particular pungent magic that hung like smoke in the air at Perry's legendary Black Ark studio (until Perry himself burned it down, for reasons still not entirely clear). Perry's production style was utterly idiosyncratic, and never more so than when he was recording Kingston's finest talent in that primitive four-track facility. The 20 tracks on Produced and Directed (ten vocal tracks, each followed by its dub version) are no more nor less weird than most of what emerged from that surreal environment, although it's worth noting that the dub versions are a bit more interesting than is often the case with other Perry recordings of this vintage. Of course, the raw material he had to work with was spectacular -- the Flames' "Zion" is a gorgeous repatriation anthem, and the Heptones are at their best on "Crying Over You." By themselves, the two tracks from Junior Murvin are worth the price of admission, though neither is entirely new: "False Teachings" is presented in an alternate (and perhaps superior) version to that found on his seminal Police and Thieves album, while "Philistines on the Land" is yet another treatment of the "Police and Thieves" rhythm. Highly recommended.

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