Lee "Scratch" Perry

Reggae Greats

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With its contributions from such eminent members of the Lee "Scratch" Perry stable as the Heptones, Max Romeo, and Junior Murvin, this album could have been titled Lee Perry 101. You can start a lot of arguments among reggae fans trying to establish the single best Perry compilation; despite a reggae marketplace glutted with low-rent bootlegs and just plain sloppy or shoddy "best-ofs," there are still a good dozen or so compilations on the market that can lay claim to indispensability. This one, an early entry in Mango's respected Reggae Greats series, is certainly one of them. Most of the track selections are obvious: Murvin's "Police and Thieves," Romeo's "War Ina Babylon," George Faith's "To Be a Lover," and several Perry performances including the eerie "Roast Fish and Cornbread" and "Dreadlocks in Moonlight." From the more obscure depths of the Perry catalog come the very stern Jah Lion (aka Jah Lloyd) with "Wisdom" and the vaguely creepy "Groovy Situation" by Keith Rowe. These recordings represent some of Perry's finest work as a producer and bandleader, and exemplify the creative peak of his Black Ark period. If you must limit yourself to a single Lee Perry album, this one may be the best bet.

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