Regarded with awe throughout the music world, Lee “Scratch” Perry holds status as one of the most enduring and original reggae producers and artists of all time. From his early days in the 1960’s as a singer and engineer for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One in Kingston, through his production of the seminal Wailers’ classics African Herbsman and Soul Revolution, Perry’s innovative style marks him as one of reggae’s original treasures. His on the edge creative genius remains evident in his own solo albums of the 1970’s through his steady stream of mind-boggling releases of the 1980’s.
One of reggae’s undisputed pioneers, Lee “the Upsetter” Perry has worked with almost everyone from the Heptones to the Skatalites to the Clash. Certainly one of his most notable contributions was the pairing of Bob Marley, to Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer with the Barnet Brothers (Carley and “Familyman” who had been the heart of the Perry’s group, the Upsetters) and thus the forming of the Bob Marley and the Wailers.
After his own studio, “Black Ark,” burned to the ground in the late 1970’s, Perry laid low for a while, only to resurface with a vengeance in England in the mid-1980’s. He went back into the studio with a variety of partners, from Adrian Sherwood to Terence Trent D’Arby. During this time, Perry took up residence in the Swiss Alps (“The mountains give me the fresh Swiss air to replenish my structure so I can soon join the immortal race”). Proof positive that talent on this scale will win out no matter what, since the “madman” has come down from the mountain, the World Music market has been gifted with more Lee Perry Product.
Perry’s stream of consciousness rants have been called the babblings of the lunatic by some to the offerings of a prophet by others. Either way, his unique dubbing style is infectious. Often, the words are broken down into their purest elements, sound and feeling. Perry’s groundbreaking use of sound effects, echo reverb, and rewind adds a new dimension to the folk tradition of Reggae and has influenced countless other artists.
In his plethora of newer material, “Scratch” expounds on his favourite themes of extraterrestrials, judgment, justice, corruption, carnality, and self proclamation, all over some killer riddims.
Always one to follow the beat of his own drummers, the eccentric genius Perry continues to break new ground with the hardest rebel Rasta tunes and the most unpredictable instrumental dubs. Lee Perry has most recently been touring Europe, riveting both old and new fans with a full measure of his blessings.
The “Upsetter” charges forward making music that recalls African roots, at the same time, it reaches for the vastness of the outer space.
Lee is perhaps the only 80 + year old that can dance on one leg for 1 hour straight!
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