Various artists album review
Triple CD set & 52 page booklet
24 - 10 - 1997
Reel One : Dub Organiser
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
"It was only four tracks on the machine, but I was picking up twenty from the extra terrestrial squad," - Lee Perry.
Arkology is an anthology of Black Ark treasures collected and annotated by Perry experts Steve Barrow and David Katz, a magnificent four hour set of music that is an absolutely essential collection for both old and new Lee Perry fans. A 52 page booklet is included, featuring a biography of Perry nicely punctuated by many unpublished interview quotes, an annotated track listing, terrific photos, and an earthy graphic design. It's one of those sets that makes you feel that you're buying something with the weight of history. Each CD of Arkology is made to look like a reel of master tape - a nice graphic touch. Perhaps Perry would have named them scrolls. Like Biblical scrolls, the music resonates with wisdom, righteousness, and - of course - an almighty groove.
Reel One starts off with "Dub Revolution", where Perry promises some music "that rocks the nation", a perfect way to begin the set. Other killers include The Congos' "Don't Blame On I", a raving version of "Mr. President" by The Heptones and Jah Lion, and Max Romeo's "Chase The Devil". With only a few highlights, there's nothing really amazing on Reel One, but of course we have only begun our trip to the heart of the Ark.
Reel Two contains most of the killers on Arkology and is therefore the strongest CD of the set. It's an amazing rhythm shower, showing how Perry was able to build many songs on the same foundation, each one being as strong as the last. The mix of familiar rhythms with new voices is truly wonderful. Killers include the amazing "Dreadlocks In Moonlight", Perry's restrained attack on hypocrites and weakhearts, Max Romeo's B-movie "Norman" featuring Jah Lion as a card shark, and the magnificent nine minute "Roots Train" by Junior Murvin and Dillinger. A marvelous version excursion of Junior Murvin's "Police & Thieves" dominates Reel Two: sax man Glen DaCosta's instrumental "Magic Touch" is followed by the terrific "Soldier & Police War" by Jah Lion and The Upsetters' echoing "Grumblin' Dub". Just when you thought the rhythm had been stretched out enough, Junior's heavy "Bad Weed" takes it one step further.
Reel Three is where the more esoteric selections on Arkology find a home, but is the weakest CD in the set. The first half is brilliant, with alternate cuts of Augustus Pablo's amazing "Vibrate On" and its dub companion "Vibrator". Other killers include a version of The Heptones' "Party Time" with Scratch himself doing some berserk DJ-ing over the rhythm, and an unreleased track from The Heptones' Party Time, "Make Up Your Mind". After these highlights, Reel Three sadly runs out of steam. What's left is music that should be well known to serious Perry fans, with the exception of Junior Byles' "Curly Locks" sung by Perry. What might have been a great grande finale, an alternate version of the mind altering "Roast Fish & Cornbread" and its dub is spoiled by the fact that these mixes lack the echo chamber at midnight vibe of the original. As Arkology concludes, however, there is no doubt that for the past four hours Perry has vindicated his cry of "rock it in the backyard".