Although Bob Marley & the Wailers are best known to the world at large for their Island recordings, many dedicated Wailer fanatics have long held that the earlier work Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer did with Jamaican producer and auteur Lee "Scratch" Perry was actually the creative zenith of the group. Marley and company only worked with Perry for a short time -- from August 1970 through April 1971 -- but they completed an amazing amount of tracks, all of high quality and rhythmic variety, and this brief sampler only scratches (excuse the pun) the surface. Among the many high points here are the folksy "Small Axe," the angry, defiant Tosh song, "Four Hundred Years," the spooky "Duppy Conqueror," and Bunny Wailer's wistful "Dreamland." Perry streamlined the group's sound and harmonies, helped focus the lyrics, and in general put down the blueprint for Marley's future success, a point Marley never really denied. Again, this disc is only a sample of the great music Perry and the Wailers put together in just under a year. The full sessions are available as a six-CD box set called The Complete Upsetter Collection from Trojan Records, and it includes dubs, versions and alternate takes.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett