Lee Perry & The Upsetters Ape-ology Review

Compilation. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Long-lost gems and rarities from the man who burned down his own studio!

Martin Longley 2008

This excellent two-disc set manages to cram in three old vinyl albums and seven 'lost' bonus tracks, all emanating from Perry's Black Ark studios in the late 1970s. Flushed by a deal with Island Records, he created the album, Scratch The Super Ape, its first five tracks featuring The Heptones, with female vocal trio The Full Experience stepping in towards the end. In the middle, Prince Jazzbo drops by the Ark for Croaking Lizard. The full flood of Boris Gardiner's superdubbed bass achieves primacy throughout these discs, the only other constant presence being the skittering spread of percussion effects, and stripped back cymbal snicks. Perry might filter in distant streaks of saxophone, flute or even moo-ing cows, but the bass and drums are the dominant forces, unless 'Scratch' is busy voicing his own abstract thoughts.

Unfortunately, the next two albums were rejected by Island, but this might not have been for purely musical reasons. Instead, 'Scratch' released them on his own Lion Of Judah label. Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread came out in 1978, opening with the supremely singalong Soul Fire, then almost getting into conventional song structures, when compared to its predecessor. Perry is putting back most of the instruments into the mix, eschewing his customary sparseness. Later that same year, Return Of The Super Ape followed, taking off on its own kaleidoscopic journey to another unfamiliar place, awash in a psychedelic miasma of yelps, grunts and coughs. Then, to finish off, the previously unreleased bonus mixes of From Creation are about as minimal as it gets.

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