Lee "Scratch" Perry

Roots of Dub

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AllMusic Review by

There are scores of Lee "Scratch" Perry CDs on the market, but unfortunately an alarming number of these have no connection to Perry whatsoever, or include a single track or two of his with the balance being anonymous dub mixes that have no relation to Perry at all. Then there is the problem of legitimate Perry releases being given different titles and cover art and hitting the shelves as supposedly new product. There are also the well-intentioned compilations that collect individual Perry-produced tracks in endless combinations, often without adequate liner notes, stick Black Ark in the title, and ship 'em. Lastly, there's Scratch himself, who has a long standing habit of revisiting old backing tracks with new (and not always better) ideas. It's a mare's nest of confusion for the consumer that can be like walking through a mine field, since if you get some bad or bogus Perry, well, it's really bad, and bogus, and worse. So what do you have here? The entire Return of the Super Ape album with maybe half of the Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread album, plus at least one track ("Curly Dub," here spelled "Curley Dub") from the original Super Ape release, and single tracks from the Double Seven and Africa's Blood LPs. The exact same combination of tracks, although placed in a different sequence, appeared as Scratch Walking from Starburst Records in 2001. The good news is that all of these apparently random pieces fall together rather well, and the result is an amazingly coherent anthology of Perry in peak form, weaving snatches of vocals, bizarre sound effects, strands of jazz, and his own odd view of the universe into a goofy, eerie, surreal, and brooding carnival of voices. Roots of Dub (or its doppelgänger, Scratch Walking) may not be the ideal introduction to Scratch for the casual listener, but then maybe it is, since the water is deep, opaque, and frequently fascinating no matter where you dive in when it comes to Lee "Scratch" Perry material.

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