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Lee Perry & The Upsetters

Rating: 9/10 ?

July 31, 2007
Some of reggae legend Lee Perry's finest work can be found on the albums Scratch the Super Ape, Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread and Return of The Super Ape. All three of these albums were released in the late 1970s, after Perry had built the legendary Black Ark studio in his back yard. The first of those albums was released by the Island label, and the two following albums on Perry's own Lion of Judah label. All three are filled to the brim with Perry's deep and multifaceted productions.

Coming across Perry's most recent release, Ape-Ology, recorded with The Upsetters and released by Trojan, is like finding three polished diamonds in a local thrift shop. The release is spread over two CDs, the first containing Scratch The Super Ape and Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread (the second of these titles could possibly be the finest reggae release to date), and the second containing Return of The Super Ape and seven ultra-dubby bonus tracks. Of the bonus cuts, the first four are culled from the mixes of the rare dub plate From Creation and released here for the first time digitally. For anyone with even the least bit of interest in reggae, Ape-Ology is a gold mine.

Those already in Perry's devoted following will undoubtedly be familiar with the man's catalog, and for them the extra two discs of material might be a tough sell for the seven previously unreleased tracks. Is it worth it? This reviewer says yes, but that Trojan would have made a better move by releasing two separate reissue albums instead of a single double, which would have kept those buying the whole package while not pricing out those interested in only the bonus cuts.

No matter how it is sliced, there is a whole generation growing up just dying to dig deep in the treasure chest that is reggae, bound to discover that Bob Marley is not the only genius Jamaica has ever produced. For them it is a good idea to run through Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread, not once, not twice, but multiple times. Let the genius of Lee Perry really sink in, and then dive into the huge pool of material he created, where there are enough songs either written, produced, or performed by Perry to float on for a big chunk of your life.

For the rest of us, the seven bonus tracks are remarkably good, enough so as to make Ape-Ology worth it and enough to take care of our reggae cravings for a couple of weeks. When Ape-Ology's buzz has worn off, there are always Perry's other earlier releases to get intimate with.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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