In keeping with the Orb’s tendency toward sci-fi themes, the album is called The Observer in the Star House. But the sci-fi endeavor is more Cocoon than Star Wars – gentle, romantic and consistently delivered rather than epic in scope.
The legendary and legendarily batty reggae pioneer teams up with Bill Laswell, with Bernie Worrell and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe lending a hand. The Lee Perry-ness that ensues is of a notably refined nature.
'Heart of the Congos' has seen many ups and downs, from the widespread acclaim of today to the creative ferment of late '70s Kingston and all the neglect, discovery, and possible theft that came in between. Through all that noise the album shines, a work of undeniable inspiration and enigmatic effect, and a lasting testament to Lee Perry and his studio.
The international success of 'Police and Thieves' made it ubiquitous for fans of reggae and punk alike, but the album's roots are particular to the inner workings of vital, very-much-Jamaican studios like the Black Ark.
From the irresistible call of the opening drums to the indeterminate farewell of the last, fading chant, 'Super Ape' incarnates a sonic world, a microcosm of rhythm, mix, melody, and toasting that, whatever your personal tastes, stands replete and to itself.
Max Romeo's 'War Ina Babylon' was just the beginning of a tremendously fertile period for producer Lee Perry. In less than two years he would produce an impressive batch of albums, several of which remain absolute classics. 'War Ina Babylon' can measure up to all of them in one way or another, and that is the main reason it is remembered as an essential piece of the roots reggae canon.