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By 1976, Lee “Scratch” Perry was well established at his Black Ark studio, a fact proven by the quality of the creations emerging from its walls. The success of Max Romeo’s “War in a Babylon” brought a deal with Island Records and the possibility of greater financial rewards. The single was followed by a full-length album of the same name as well as deejay Jah Lion’s Columbia Colly LP. Riding this crest of productivity, Scratch then turned to a creation of his own. Super Ape offered a series of the producer’s finest 1976 rhythms, from Devon Irons’ “When Jah Come” and the Blue Bells’ “Come Along” to Romeo’s “War in a Babylon” and “Chase the Devil.” All are bathed in the distinct, murky atmosphere that was becoming a Black Ark trademark, then served up in the form of dub-like de-constructions. Island’s U.K./U.S. sequencing of Super Ape places “Dread Lion” at the album’s heart. If any track fulfills the cover’s promise to “Dub it up, blacker than dread”, this is it. Vocals from numerous cuts seem to compete for their spot on the rhythm, while a dizzying mix of horns, flute and melodica swirl around them. Punctuating the song’s rock-solid underbelly, Perry conjures startling thunderclaps from his mixing board. Other Super Ape heavyweights include “Croaking Lizard” and “Zion’s Blood”: thick muscular constructs from the Upsetter session team. The former features an excellent Prince Jazzbo toast over the “Chase the Devil” rhythm, while the latter, a cut of “When Jah Come,” draws its elusive meaning from vocal phrases courtesy of Heptones Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn. Super Ape is a dubwise, alternate universe to Perry’s Black Ark vocal hits. It awaits anyone willing to heed it’s closing call: “This is the ape-man, trodding through creation, are you ready to step with I man?”.

‘Return of the Super Ape’ would mark the last Upsetters album to be recorded in Lee Perry’s famed and ill-fated Black Ark studio, which was destroyed by a fire (possibly started by an increasingly unstable Perry himself). Although tragic, ‘Return of the Super Ape’ is the perfect album to close the Black Ark era of Lee Perry’s career; it’s difficult, bizarre, musically diverse, and extremely rewarding.

-Nathan Bush,,

SUPER APE (1976)



  1. my copy of Lee P's HISTORY MYSTERY PROPHESY is in storage—have you that in collection? Not many may agree but I like that middle period album [esp. happy cut 1 MR MUSIC] a lot!

  2. hey manloving the lee perry stuff you are posting here. have most of them already, since im a bit of a dub head. you should take a listen to an album called 'dub landing' by Scientist which has some really strange, abstract and space age grooves on it (the track "Beaming" is incredible). I'd also recommend Creation Rebels "Starship Africa" album which is one of the strangest, proggiest dub albums i have ever heard.

  3. nice, thanks dudesi will check out all these albums

  4. oh, nice. i've been meaning to check out the adrian sherwood/u-sound stuff for a while now and needed a starting point

  5. hey not that it matters to many, as they're probably grabbing both, but your links are reversed

  6. These are cool. I like them much more than 'Jamaican E.T.'

  7. links fixed!

  8. hey b i'm getting to killing joke, probably by the weeked. i'd actually never listened to them before myself!

  9. I used to have these albums but lost many years ago. Thanks a lot

  10. Thanks for this. Lovely post

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