Lee Scratch Perry and the Whitebellyrats Panic in Babylon

Lee Perry is at his maniacal best within the creative whirlwind of collaboration. Having another artist, or artists, to reign in his wildly and sometimes ill advised experimentations and self-gratifying lyrics has generally produced some of the highest points of his career, and that of reggae in general. The key to the success of Panic in Babylon is that Perry is not in control, he is merely a featured guest of the Whitebellyrats — meaning he contributes the vocals and the band lays down the music and complete the mix. Not only has this understanding resulted in the most accessible Perry record in recent memory (a great primer for the uninitiated), WBR’s modern dub effects almost always feel like a direct link from master dubber Perry himself: as if Black Ark-era Perry was working with today’s technology. There are occasional missteps and weaknesses — Perry’s voice is noticeably weary and out of tune on "Rastafari” and beware, there is a Cher-like wobbly vocal tuning effect on "Fight to the Finish,” but these are small prices to pay to hear a living legend still making cutting edge music. (Damp Music)