Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

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Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby chuckasaurusrex » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:31 pm

Now before anybody takes offense at the question (how DARE he even question this?), let me preface it by saying that I already have a lot of the Black Ark material currently available on CD, including "Heart of the Congos" (B&F), "Police and Thieves" (deluxe; Island), "War Inna Babylon" (Hip-O-Select), "To Be A Lover" (Hip-O-Select), "Super Ape" (Hip-O-Select), the various Pressure Sounds compilations, several Heartbeat compilations, some Seven Leaves releases, "Party Time" (Palm Pictures), "Build the Ark" (Trojan), "Open the Gate" (Trojan), and probably others I'm not thinking of off the top of my head. I don't, however, have "Arkology", and it's difficult to find sound samples with which to determine whether or not it would mostly duplicate what I already have on other releases. I am sort of reflexively tempted by it from time to time as it was seemingly a landmark release at the time, and can now be had for around $21. Is there anything worthwhile on "Arkology" which hasn't already been compiled or included on other CD releases? Thanks for any advice.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby Ade » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:38 pm

I can't believe it that hard to find samples? It's the kind of thing that would be all over youtube.

Full track listings details and timings from the wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkology_(album) [link needs final bracket inserted]

No offence taken on my part, but it's a how long is a piece of string question. I bet that the majority of people that own it already had nuff Upsetter stuff when they bought it, but it's often just about having a different package and running order or mastering or mix or version...
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby informer » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:41 pm

'the one who cleans the s.h.i.t must remember it' (Lee Perry)
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby chuckasaurusrex » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:14 pm

If it's indeed a pointless question, I apologize.

My thought was that an "alternate mix" on Arkology might well appear on other compilations. You can't tell whether or not an "alternate mix" is exclusive to Arkology without knowing definitely whether a particular version of the track posted on Youtube or elsewhere is the exact same mix which appears on "Arkology".

I was hoping that somebody whose collection included not only the same material I already have but also "Arkology" could say quickly and easily whether or not "Arkology" added anything under the circumstances.

I've heard the mastering isn't great, which is one of the reasons I didn't buy it when it first came out (the other being cost). A different running order is of no interest to me; a different package, maybe yes ("Arkology" is supposed to have a nice booklet), but I'd be buying it for tracks which couldn't be obtained elsewhere.
Last edited by chuckasaurusrex on Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby Ital Dokta » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:05 pm

Pretty sure some tracks on Arkology have not yet appeared elsewhere, I don't recall seeing Dreadlocks In Moonlight/Dread At the Mantrol for example on another release since, and those two tracks are pretty darn essential just on their own.

Much of the material on Arkology was unavailable or long out of print when it was released which goes some way to explaining its reputation, also there were many new fans just discovering this music for the first time. Mark T and I were just discussing it a short while ago and I can still remember going downtown to buy Arkology when it first came out, definitely a revelatory and landmark release for me, up there with Tougher Than Tough and Heart Of the Congos (all Steve Barrow compiled!).
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby Mick Sleeper » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:33 pm

Arkology could have been much better. At first, Island's idea was to release a single CD collection and asked Steve Barrow to write the sleeve notes. Steve told them "Wait, a single CD?! You have enough material in the vaults for a box set!" and also insisted on getting David Katz involved. Steve and Dave had to really push Island to let them into the vaults to access the master tapes. They found all kinds of alternate mixes and songs that had never been heard before. In the end, many of their choices were vetoed and their playlist was edited down to what we get on the final set. Read what David Katz had to say about compiling Arkology on my Scratch site:

http://www.upsetter.net/scratch/words/outerview_sleeper_katz.htm

It is an excellent compilation, but of course if you already have a lot of Black Ark material, it might not be considered an essential purchase. Trojan's I Am The Upsetter Box set is the more essential purchase IMO, since it provides a broader overview of Scratch's career.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby skunkride » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:41 pm

Excellent compilation & can't remember anything wrong with the mastering & sound quality - however at least half of it is probably available elsewhere by now & the alternate mixes are not radically different from the 'regular' mixes so it just depends how much of it you already have elsewhere. The booklet is very nice by itself...
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby chuckasaurusrex » Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:07 pm

Thank you all for the helpful replies.

Special mention to Mick Sleeper for his website - which is, indeed, "essential".

I picked up the set. I'll live with the duplication as I've spent more money on things I'll likely enjoy much less. For whatever reason, I wasn't half as impressed with Perry's work years ago as I am now. Somebody on this board remarked recently that hearing a Scratch production in a mix of tracks by various producers was like a breath of fresh air or a refreshing shower (or words to that effect) - I agree.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby Mark T » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:10 am

I never thought of Perry's Black Ark productions as a 'breath of fresh air' - more like claustrophobic, airless, steamy, stifled pieces of music, brilliant though, that is not meant as a criticism. I know what you meant though, they stand out as different among the pack.
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Doug, I took the set with me on the trip but never got round to listening to it despite a 10 hour plus return trip due to snow and driving rain. I was too scared to take my hands off the wheel for the most part and only stopped for gas in Williams Lake!
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby Ital Dokta » Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:29 am

Good thing you picked up those snow tires Mark - glad you made it home safe, that must have been a white knuckle drive!

"Airless" is a good word to describe the Black Ark productions - "underwater" is another phrase I've heard used to describe that tense, impossibly dense yet springy sound - like being at the bottom of the ocean with xxx pounds of pressure bearing down on you. Amazing and intricate sonic constructions.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby chuckasaurusrex » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:55 am

"Underwater" is certainly an apt description to my ears as well - yet I often feel a lightness as well.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby Mark T » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:31 am

I think of hot, humid, steamy, tropical jungle…

Yep it was white knuckle drive - probably why I've felt knackered all weekend. Some pretty scary sections and I'm a fairly seasoned winter driver. Couple of cars and a semi in the ditch n the way.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby credezcrew24 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:56 am

I have no problem with the sound quality. The tracks are mastered quieter then what is commonly done today, but I have no problem with that, it helps preserve the dynamic range. We all have our own volume knobs anyway.

I think it's a great release the Heptones tracks are great. I really like Junior Dread's version of Sufferers Time. Don't Blame It On I is a great Congo's piece. No Peace by the Meditations is another favorite. Dreadlocks in Moonlight along with Mikey Dread's version are great as Ital Dokta mentioned. Errol Walker's John Public is a cool song. Check out his song Better Future if you haven't heard it yet it's amazing unfortunately it's not on this set.

I'm sure there is enough in this set to satisfy you even with the CD's you already have.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby vane » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:58 pm

Errol Walker - In these Times (unreleased), Congos - Congoman, Augustus Pablo - Vibrate Onn (different mixes) make it a worthwhile purchase.
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Re: Is "Arkology" necessarily an essential purchase?

Postby aliled » Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:15 am

I was going to do a track-by-track comparison of what's on Arkology to what I have elsewhere, but after doing just the first disc, it was obvious that Arkology is essential. Out of the 18 tracks on the first CD, TEN are unavailable elsewhere on CD (that I know of; correct the list if I'm wrong, but I have about 120 Scratch-related CDs, so . . .) The remaining EIGHT tracks aren't too hard to find, except for maybe the songs on the Black Art Singles Selector Too or Peace And Love comps, which may be tougher to locate - I've had them forever and don't know if they're around today. In any case, that's more than half of the stuff off CD 1 that can't be located elsewhere. A brief scan and a check of the titles on the other CDs shows a good portion of "rare" stuff too - I'll post a list like this one if anyone cares, but right now I need sleep! One final note: the track listing on Arkology is confusing because it gives slightly alternate titles (like adding "extended" to songs only available on CD with the same running length.) I looked everything up on my iTunes database (270,000 lossless tunes!) and played tracks for similarities and compared times, too. Here you go:

Dub Revolution (pt 1) (alt take) - Lee Perry & Upsetters - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
One Step Forward - Max Romeo - on Cutting Razor + Black Art Singles Selector
One Step Dub (extended mix) - The Upsetters - on Black Art Singles Selector Too
Vampire - Devon Irons - on Peace And Love (as Ketch Vampire)
Vamp A Dub - The Upsetters - UNAVAILABLE ELSWHERE
Sufferer's Time (alternate take) - The Heptones - on Sipple Out Deh
Sufferer's Dub (extended mix) - The Upsetters - UNAVAILABLE ELSWHERE
Sufferer's Heights (alternate mix) - Junior Dread - UNAVAILABLE ELSWHERE
Don't Blame It On I - The Congos - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Much Smarter - The Meditations - on Sipple Out Deh and Deeper Roots (as Think So)
Much Smarter Dub 4:43 The Upsetters - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Life Is Not Easy (alt mix) - The Meditations - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Life Is Not Easy Dub (alt mix) - The Upsetters - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Tedious (extended mix) - Junior Murvin - on some versions of Police & Thieves
War In A Babylon - Max Romeo - on War Ina Babylon
Revelation Dub - The Upsetters - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Mr President - The Heptones & Jah Lion - UNAVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Chase The Devil - Max Romeo - on War Ina Babylon
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