Lee "Scratch" Perry


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A compilation of super rarities from Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark studio, Voodooism is mostly drawn from Jamaican pre-release 7" singles, the latest recorded in 1977, with the collection holding the distinction of being approved by Perry himself. James Booms kicks off the set with a cultural toast over a Super Ape session riddim, the sole DJ track on the set, and is twinned, as are most of the numbers here, with its dub version. "Better Future" was one of three numbers Errol "Bagga" Walker cut for Perry and is arguably the strongest, its positive message backed by a sizzling stepper's riddim. "Freedom" is equally upbeat, one of four numbers Earl Sixteen cut for the Upsetter, but the sole one to see release. Leo Graham had a better track record with Perry, and here on the album's title track, the former Bleecher revisited the obeah theme he first broached on "Black Candle," one of the earliest numbers to be recorded at Black Ark. Reggae fans should be familiar with most of those names. The Roots, in contrast, are virtual unknowns, but their sublime "Mash Down" is one of the best cuts here, and was even picked up by Greensleeves for release in Britain. The Hombres and The Black Notes are even more obscure, but they both offer up lovely cultural numbers, the latter on a riddim that dates back to Perry's work on Hugh Mundell's Africa Must Be Free by 1983 album. Under the alias Watty & Tony, Watty Burnett and Clinton Fearon wake up and give thanks on the gentle "Rise and Shine," popular duo Lloyd & Devon unleash the glorious, but totally uncommercial, "Wolf Out Deh," while Perry himself and Jimmy Riley board the "Rasta Train," a version of Ken Boothe's "The Train Is Coming." Which leaves Zap Pow's proggy, dreamy, psychedelic "River." Although recorded at Black Ark and engineered by Perry, who also added the phenomenal phasing that makes the number so special, the song was created and produced by the band itself. Pressure Sound was to pay for its error, an amicable agreement was obviously reached, though, and the song reappeared on the CD reissue. It is the most breathtaking number on the set, but Perry had plenty more tricks up his sleeve, which are evident on the many sensational, innovative, and awesome dubs found Voodooism. An absolutely stupendous compilation, and for all its collectors' cache, can be just as appreciated by the more casual reggae fan.

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