Lee "Scratch" Perry

The Ultimate Collection

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There are so many Lee Perry compilations out there, and some of them are so good, that it's hard to take seriously any one that claims to be the "ultimate." And to be completely fair, it probably isn't possible to compile the ultimate Perry collection on a single disc; there's simply too much material out there, and too much of it is too good. But as single-disc distillations go, this one gets top honors. Partly because it does more than just round up the usual suspects --in addition to no-brainer selections like Max Romeo's "War Ina Babylon" and early Wailers songs "Duppy Conqueror" and "Small Axe," there are equally fine obscurities like "Dread Lion" (from the classic Upsetters album Super Ape) and two (count 'em) tracks by the Congos. And even on the obvious selections, the label was cool enough to use extended disco mixes in several cases (such as the Congos' "Neckodeemus" and the Heptones' "Mr. President"). The result is a richly diverse and thoroughly enjoyable collection of music produced by one of the most strange and wonderful figures in reggae history.

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