CD: Island CRNCD 6/524 379-2
Reel Two: Dub Shepherd
Reel Three: Dub Adventurer
"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 tracks collected and annotated by Perry experts Steve Barrow and David Katz. It's 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 A 52 page booklet is included, featuring a biography of Perry nicely punctuated by many unpublished interview quotes, an annotated track listing, and terrific photos. While the material on Arkology doesn't always represent the Black Ark at it's heaviest (for that you need Trojan's Open The Gate and Build The Ark collections), all of the music here chronicles some of Scratch's finest moments as a producer.
Reel One starts off with "Dub Revolution", where Perry promises some music "that rocks the nation", a perfect way to begin the set. It rolls on with some classic roots tunes, "One Step Forward", "Vampire", and "Sufferer's Time", each followed by their heavy duty dub versions. The first revelation of the set is an unreleased Congos song, "Don't Blame On I", quickly followed by the fantastic "Much Smarter" by The Meditations. Jah Lion joins the Heptones on "Mr. President", and Max Romeo's "Chase The Devil" provides a dread conclusion to Reel One. However, 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 series of tunes, starting off with a personal favourite, "Dreadlocks In Moonlight", Perry's restrained attack on hypocrites and weakhearts. Perhaps the most stunning song on the CD, the film noir reggae of Max Romeo's "Norman", is included in the extended "domino" mix featuring Jah Lion as a card sharp and an amazing, dubbed up second half. An incredible rhythm shower based on the "Police & Thieves" rhythm dominates Reel Two, showing how Perry was able to build many songs on the same foundation, each one being as strong as the last. Just when you thought the rhythm had been stretched out enough, Junior's heavy "Bad Weed" takes it one step further. The real powerhouse on Reel Two is the magnificent nine minute "Roots Train" by Junior Murvin and Dillinger. Other highlights include the very clever "John Public" by Errol Walker, and the Meditations' "No Peace".
Reel Three is where the more esoteric selections on Arkology find a home. The first half is brilliant, with alternate cuts of Augustus Pablo's amazing "Vibrate On" and its dub companion "Vibrator", followed by the strange "Bird In Hand" by The Upsetters and the shimmering "Congoman" by The Congos. Other revelations include a version of "Party Time" with Scratch himself doing some berserk DJ-ing over the rhythm, and an unreleased track from The Heptones, the gorgeous "Make Up Your Mind". The massive set concludes with an alternate version of the outer space "Roast Fish And Cornbread" and its mind-bending dub.