Some call him a genius, others claim he’s certifiably insane, a madman. Truth is, he’s both, but more importantly, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is a towering figure in reggae — a producer, mixer, and songwriter who, along with King Tubby, helped shape the sound of dub and made reggae music such a powerful part of the pop music world. Along with producing some of the most influential acts (Bob Marley & the Wailers and the Congos to name but two) in reggae history, Perry’s approach to production and dub mixing.
1999’s Black Ark is basically a reissue of the quasi-legit 1993 French import collection Black Ark in Dub. Although some of the song titles are different (mostly lengthened from the one-word titles common on the earlier collection), these are the same cuts and mixes as found on the earlier collection, presented with marginally better sound and the same almost complete lack of session information as to when and by whom these dubs were made. The material, as it happens, is uniformly fine ’70s-vintage dub, bass-heavy and lacking in the self-conscious weirdness of some of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s later work. (“Cool Rockers” does have some good old-fashioned tape trickery, to appease those who feel that listening to dub must approximate being blasted on potent herb.) This is completely redundant to anyone who owns the earlier collection, but by stripping four minor tracks and coming out on a U.S. label to avoid the onerous import costs, Black Ark is the better choice for those weighing which to get.
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GENRES: Electronic, Dub, Reggae, Roots Reggae, Ska
MOODS: Calm, Chillout, Groovy, Mellow, Mysterious, Peaceful, Relaxed, Rhythmic
SIMILAR ARTISTS: King Tubby, The Upsetters, Busty Brown, Augustus Pablo
KEY ELEMENTS: Mixing Board, Bass Heavy