I've never really pursued them. I've always been sort of militant about hearing studio LPs, but it seems that reggae in particular benefits from the compilation approach (lots of deep cuts and songs that didn't appear on regular LPs).
Having said that, Ape-ology is pretty sweet. I don't think I've heard Son of Thunder, though. in general, I need to note some of the other comps you mention here like The Hudson Affair.
So again, re: comps vs. original LPs, I've never heard the African Herbsman comp, though I think I've heard all those tracks. I recently bought a picture disc of Soul Revolution (which obv has a lot of those songs) and have been spinning it a bunch. A very un-Scratch-like Scratch production!
So I guess my beef with the Toots releases is that they took off my 3 favorite songs from the original Funky Kingston. Sit Right Down is the ultimate opener! and I love their cover of Daddy's Home, as well.
I don't necessarily blame you for not liking 40 mins of dub in a row. I often make reggae mixes so that vocal and dub tracks are mixed together. Shame about Augustus, though! I have a lot of time for his instrumental stuff.
I believe I have heard the Ras Michael but need to dig out again.
And also... I need to get out to SF! I have some awesome cousins in San Anselmo who I visited a year and a half ago. I'd like to enjoy the 'erb culture out there. Then again, Massachusetts is opening things up these days as well.