Lee "Scratch" Perry

Some of the Best

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Some of the Best is more accurately some of best from 1968 through 1974, so those who are hoping to find Black Ark cuts should look elsewhere. Regardless, Perry did fabulous work during this era -- his experimentations during this early reggae period would blossom in the roots age. He released a flood of music during these years, and a mere 13 tracks barely scratches Scratch's surface, especially as Some of the Best divides its time between Perry's own songs, his productions, and Upsetters instrumentals. It's a pretty jolting ride as well, as the album careens crazily back and forth across the years and to and fro between artists. Occasionally the chaos creates intriguing juxtapositions, deliberately or otherwise. The powerful "Shocks of Mighty," with its intricate rhythms, immediately precedes the laid-back beats of "Set Me Free"; both songs are performed by the Upsetters with vocals supplied by Dave Barker. Best known as a DJ with a penchant for exuberant James Brown-esque excesses, "Shocks" is Barker at his grunting, yipping best, but on "Free," listeners discover he also has a voice of an angel. Pairing the Wailers' "Duppy Conqueror" with "Upsetting Station" is another nice touch, as both utilized the same rhythm. "Fu Man Version" is a portent of things to come, as Perry dips his toes into dub and roots. In contrast, "Kiss Me Neck" is indebted to Keith & Tex's version of "Stop That Train," while pointing the way to hip-hop with the production's stripped-back sound and vocal delivery. Hits rub shoulders with rarities, the rhythms are sublime, and Perry's innovative sounds fly across the grooves. If only there was more.

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