Bob Marley

Soul Almighty: Natural Mystic, Vol. 2

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By the time this compilation surfaced on Avid Records, the Wailers' recordings for producer Lee "Scratch" Perry had been packaged in a variety of forms. While neither Natural Mystic, Vol. 2 nor its predecessor have anything new to offer, they maintain the standards of song selection and sound quality established by the collections that proceeded them. This set gathers cuts from both Soul Rebels (1970) and Soul Revolution (1971) while also adding eight tracks from the same period. As nearly every discerning roots fan would argue, the recordings Marley made under Perry were perhaps the finest of his tremendously successful career. Employing the latest incarnation of his mercurial Upsetters that included brothers Carlton and Aston Barrett (bass and drums), guitarist Alva "Reggie" Lewis, and keyboardist Glen Adams, Perry supplied the Wailers with the finest rhythms from his expanding arsenal. Against these settings, Marley found his voice. Following a failed attempt to cut the song with the great Soul Syndicate band, the Wailers re-recorded the classic "Duppy Conqueror" with the Upsetters. Like many of the songs Marley re-cut in subsequent years, this version, with Scratch at the controls, remains definitive. Likewise for Peter Tosh's excellent "400 Years," whose Catch a Fire incarnation hardly matches the urgency found here. Natural Mystic, Vol. 2 also contains its share of quality tracks that reside outside the Marley/Wailers canon. "Rebel's Hop" captures the Upsetters rhythm team at their most propulsive as they deliver a rich, churning rhythm behind the trio's harmonies. "All in One" finds Scratch catching the medley fever (a format that enjoyed brief popularity in Jamaica) as Marley and company reprise a number of their latest hits. Even the weakest material is thoroughly enjoyable, making Natural Mystic, Vol. 2 rewarding for anyone wishing to gain a closer look into this period of the group.

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