A sequel that arguably tops its predecessor, The Return of Sound System Scratch
collects dub plates and other rare material from producer Lee “Scratch” Perry
’s legendary Black Ark Studios, a place where dub and dank roots reggae flourished during the ‘70s. This is no small feat in 2011, as the Black Ark’s history is serpentine and you can already pile the “Scratch” comps to the ceiling, but many of those competing releases are bogus or stretch the truth, a problem you won’t run into here. From the seemingly underwater dub of Bob Marley
’s “Natural Mystic” called “Natural Dub” to the deep space take on Scratch
’s beloved “Enter the Dragon,” now titled “Enter the Upsetter,” this is the real deal, sometimes with the added benefit of incredibly long fades or pre-song studio chatter. Without the tightness of his most famous dubs, the set might meander a bit too much for the newcomer, but those who don’t mind mind-expanding soundtracks that develop slowly could find this the perfect gateway drug. Scratch
aficionados, on the other hand, can’t call themselves so without a copy. When you add great liner notes from Pete Holdsworth
plus a valiant attempt to credit the musicians, you’ve got one of the best Perry
rarities sets to date.