Lee "Scratch" Perry

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Lee "Scratch" Perry

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Lee "Scratch" Perry is less a performer than a producer, mixer, dub master, and musical auteur, and whether he is crazy as a loon or crazy as a fox will be debated endlessly by Perry buffs. But there is no denying that his peak years as a producer in the mid- to late '70s at his Black Ark Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, were responsible for some of the most amazing and distinctive records in the history of reggae. This brief collection pulls together some of the more accessible of those Black Ark sides, and each features the sort of watery, Echoplex-soaked sound that immediately mark them as Perry productions. Among the highlights here are Junior Murvin's timeless and classic "Police and Thieves," Max Romeo's bubbly (but deadly serious) "War in a Babylon," Perry's own beautiful and haunting "Dreadlocks in the Moonlight," a song he wrote for Bob Marley, and the Heptones' joyous and wise "Party Time," which seems to bounce and flow as effortlessly as a river. There is much more to Perry than just his Black Arkyears, of course, but his output during this time has to be considered his apex, and his considerable reputation as a producer rests with the songs and dubs he crafted during this time period. Most Perry fanatics will already have all of these cuts, but for the casual listener wondering what all the fuss is about, this anthology is an excellent entry point.

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