Lee "Scratch" Perry

Rootz Reggae Dub

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Lee "Scratch" Perry remains highly productive well into his eighties, and for every widely publicized collaboration with a big name like Adrian Sherwood or the Orb, there are a few smaller-scale, low-budget releases like this one. This is an attempt at focusing on more of a roots reggae sound, but the typical modern-day roots album is filled with slick, radio-ready production and sing-songy lyrics about peace, love, and unity. On Rootz Reggae Dub, however, Perry is doing his typical free-associative muttering over tasteful, slightly echoey backing tracks, featuring rudimentary percussion by Perry himself, as well as spirited backing vocals by Detroit trio Dames Brown and the Groovematist. It has songs titled "Sun Is Shining," "Stir It Up," and "Punky Reggae Party," but none of these bear any resemblance to the Bob Marley tunes (two of which were actually produced by Perry). Additionally, "Evil Man Loose in the World" opens with a reference to Perry's early classic "Shocks of Mighty." Essentially, it's a lot of touching on past glories without really creating anything that stands up to them. Nevertheless, there are a few standout moments, particularly the fast and funky "Like a Megawave" and "Speak Easy on a Quiet Moonless Night," which is calm, spacious, and pleasantly weird.

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