Photo © David Katz
Jamaican record producer Lee "Scratch" Perry is widely celebrated as one of the most important creative figures to emerge in the late-20th century. In 'I Am The Upsetter: The Sonic Innovation of Lee "Scratch" Perry, producer David Katz, who is Perry's authorized biographer, draws on archive interviews to explore his incredible career, which began in the early 1960s and continued until August 2021, only ending when Perry died, aged 85. One of Bob Marley's most important mentors, Perry's Black Ark studio used substandard equipment, but the innovative work he produced there with Max Romeo, Junior Murvin and others inspired a range of artists active in other genres, including Paul McCartney, The Clash, and The Beastie Boys.
- Lee Perry: Introducing Myself
- Fats Domino: Going To The River
- Stranger Cole: Rough And Tough
- Lee Perry: Chicken Scratch
- Lee Perry: Hand To Hand
- Lee Perry: Give Me Justice
- Lee Perry: I Am The Upsetter
- Lee Perry: People Funny Boy
- The Upsetters: Return Of Django
- Bob Marley and the Wailers: Duppy Conqueror
- Junior Byles: Beat Down Babylon
- Lee Perry and Charlie Ace: Cow Thief Skank
- Charlie Ace & Upsetters: 7¾ Skank
- Susan Cadogan: Hurt So Good
- Max Romeo: War In A Babylon
- Upsetters: Zion’s Blood
- Junior Murvin: Police And Thieves
- Bob Marley and the Wailers: Punky Reggae Party
- The Congos: Congo Man
- Lee Perry: Roast Fish And Cornbread
- Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo: African Roots
- Lee Perry: Bird In Hand
- Lee Perry: City Too Hot
- Bob Marley and the Wailers: I Know A Place
- Rast Michael & the Sons of Negus: Don’t Sell Daddy No Whiskey
- Lee Perry: Give Thankx To Jah
- Lee Perry and the Terrorists: Guerilla Priest
- Lee Perry and the Majestics: Holy Moses
- Lee Perry: Funky Joe
- Lee Perry: Judgement Inna Babylon
- Lee Perry: I Am A Madman
- Lee Perry: 25 Years Ago
- Lee Perry: Jungle
- Lee Perry: Sexy Boss
- Beastie Boys [& Lee Perry]: Dr Lee, PhD
- Lee Perry: Rastafari On Wall Street
- Dubbelstandart ft. Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound System: Iron Devil
- Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound: Underground Roots
- Lee Perry: Makumba Rock
- Lee Scratch Perry: Here Come The Warm Dreads
- Lee Perry: Autobiography Of The Upsetter
I Am The Upsetter: The Sonic Innovation of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
WINDOW/BED: 01_Introducing_Myself.wav (0:01-0:34 at least and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Introducing Myself,” Battle of Armagideon CD, ASIN: B00005Q45H)
GEORGES: THE JAMAICAN MUSIC PRODUCER LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY HAS BEEN HAILED AS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CREATIVE FIGURES OF THE LATE 20TH CENTURY. DURING A CAREER THAT LASTED OVER 60 YEARS, 5 PERRY CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT RECORDED SOUND AND THE TECHNIQUES HE DEVELOPED AT HIS BLACK ARK STUDIO ARE NOW WIDELY CELEBRATED BY GLOBAL PRACTITIONERS.
HELLO, GEORGES COLLINET WITH YOU ON AFROPOP WORLDWIDE FROM PRX.
IN TODAY’S PROGRAM WE SALUTE THE INNOVATION OF MR. PERRY, WHO DIED IN AUGUST 2021 AT THE AGE OF 85. PRODUCER DAVID KATZ IS PERRY’S AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHER AND HE WILL BE OUR GUIDE, USING ARCHIVE INTERVIEWS WITH PERRY TO ILLUSTRATE A COMPLEX LIFE, WITH TESTIMONY DELIVERED IN POETIC AND, LET’S SAY, NON-STANDARD LANGUAGE.
AND A WORD TO THE WISE HERE. LEE SCRATCH PERRY IS NOTORIOUSLY DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND, AND A POOR PHONE CONNECTION DOESN’T HELP. SO IF YOU CAN, VISIT AFROPOP.ORG AND READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS SHOW AS YOU LISTEN. THAT WAY YOU WON’T MISS A WORD OF PERRY’S MYSTERIOUS WISDOM. OTHERWISE, JUST ENJOY THE UNIQUE MUSIC OF HIS SPEAKING STYLE.
WINDOW: 01_Intoducing_Myself.wav (run from circa 1:01-1:13 and BED)
ACTY: 02_DKVO1.wav Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry appointed me his ‘Ghost Writer’ in 1987 after reading an article I’d written, pointing out that on the autobiographical “Introducing Myself,” he told Margaret Thatcher and the Queen of England to heed his message and stop doing wrong. (0:16)
WINDOW: 01_Intoducing_Myself.wav (run from circa 3:09-3:22 and BED)
ACTY: 03_DKVO2.wav Perry once claimed to come from Jupiter, but his earthbound arrival really happened in the rural hamlet of Kendal in Hanover, northwest Jamaica, where he was born Rainford Hugh Perry in 1936, the third of four children. Perry’s father was a road contractor, the rest of the family worked the land, and life was invariably hard, especially after his father abandoned the family.
ACTY: 04_LP1.wav My mother was living alone, having four of us and no father. And my mother used to be involved in farming, planting her whole yam and certain times she go out to the estate where she live and cut cane, to make some money, and then sometimes like I might go and help my mother cut some cane too. Fourth Form I leave school, and when I leave school, I didn’t even know what I go to school for, cos I didn’t learn anything on the school for itself.
WINDOW: 05_Going_To_The_River.wav (0:01-0:33 and BED)
(Fats Domino, “Going To The River,” Imperial 45, ASIN: B01013Z8GQ)
GEORGES: DURING HIS YOUTH, PERRY BECAME A RENOWNED CHAMPION AT LOCAL DOMINO TOURNAMENTS. THEY SAID HE COULD READ THE MINDS OF HIS OPPONENTS. WORKING ON A SUGARCANE PLANTATION IN DISTANT CLARENDON, PERRY SAVED ENOUGH TO BUY A BICYCLE THAT HE USED TO TRAVEL TO DANCE COMPETITIONS. ALONG THE WAY, HE MASTERED WILD AND DISJOINTED MOVES LIKE THE YANK AND THE MASHED POTATO. [ad lib on 8 might be better] NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM AND BLUES WAS THE MAINSTAY OF LOCAL SOUND SYSTEMS, AND FATS DOMINO’S “GOING TO THE RIVER” WAS ONE OF PERRY’S FAVORITES.
WINDOW: 05_Going_To_The_River.wav (few more seconds and BED)
(Fats Domino, “Going To The River,” ASIN)
ACTY: 06_DKVO3.wav When the government earmarked the fishing village of Negril for tourism development, Perry bluffed his way onto a tractor, bulldozing roads and dynamiting rocks. He married a woman named Ruby in the town of Little London and was baptized into the evangelical Church of God, but the marriage didn’t last, and Perry alone travelled to Kingston in 1961 to try to make it in the music business after being directed there by divine voices.
ACTY: 07_LP2.wav Time come when the Negril construction come into form, and they were applying for people who can do tractor driving, and I apply and get a job, so me always be very lucky that me get onto things that me wish to do and it happen for me. So me was working on part of the construction, building roads and all them things, moving rock and moving stone, and me did marry to a girl, an Indian girl, her name is Ruby, and after things wasn’t happening like how we expect it, she decided to go to Montego Bay and so me come to Kingston, because that was my destiny. Where destiny call you, you have to go.
WINDOW: 08_Rough_And_Tough.wav (0:01-0:42 and BED)
(Stranger Cole, “Rough And Tough,” This Is Trojan Ska CD, ASIN: B078X679JL)
ACTY: 09_DKVO4.wav Duke Reid had the biggest sound system on the island, and he was moving into record production, but Perry’s approach didn’t work out as planned.
ACTY: 10_LP3.wav Me never even want to talk about those days because it was ugly. Those days, me go to Duke and him say, him like me songs them, like “Rough And Tough,” he take “Rough And Tough” and give to Stranger Cole to sing, and say me can’t sing, or something like that. Heh, heh, heh, a country boy, me can’t sing. So me move to Coxsone.
GEORGES: CLEMENT DODD, KNOWN AS ‘SIR COXSONE,’ WAS DUKE REID’S YOUNGER CHALLENGER, AND PERRY WOULD WORK FOR HIM FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. AT THE TIME, DODD WAS MAKING STUDIO ONE THE PREMIER HOME OF THE EMERGING SKA MOVEMENT. PERRY WROTE HITS FOR SINGERS LIKE DELROY WILSON. HE CONVINCED DODD TO SIGN TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS. HE HELPED JACKIE MITTOO WITH MUSICAL ARRANGEMENTS, AND HE ALSO RECORDED DOZENS OF HIS OWN SONGS, INCLUDING THE DANCE NUMBER “CHICKEN SCRATCH,” THE FIRST OF MANY SIGNATURE TUNES.
WINDOW/FADE: 11_Chicken_Scratch_wav (0:01-0:31 and FADE)
(Lee Perry, “Chicken Scratch,” Chicken Scratch CD, ASIN: B013Q78V6S)
WINDOW/BED: 12_Hand_To_Hand.wav (0:01-0:08 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Hand To Hand”, Chicken Scratch CD, ASIN: B013Q78V6S)
ACTY: 13_DKVO5.wav: Much of Perry’s vocal work at Studio One evidenced his countryside origins. You can hear it on songs like “Hand To Hand,” with the Wailers on backing vocals.
WINDOW/BED: 12_Hand_To_Hand.wav (fade up at 0:16, run to 0:31 and BED)
GEORGES: BUT PERRY TIRED OF THE PALTRY FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS AND LACK OF ARTISTIC CREDIT AT STUDIO ONE. HE CUT “GIVE ME JUSTICE” WITH RIVAL PRODUCER SIR JJ, JUST TO VOICE HIS FRUSTRATION WITH DODD.
WINDOW/FADE: 14_Give_Me_Justice.wav (0:01-0:39 and FADE)
(Lee Perry, “Give Me Justice,” Trojan Ska Box Set Vol 2, ASIN: B01K0C4HG0)
WINDOW/BED: 15_I_Am_The_Upsetter.wav (0:01-0:11 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “I Am The Upsetter,” This Is Trojan Rock Steady CD, ASIN: B07B12HRHT)
ACTY: 16_DKVO6.wav Recorded at the tail end of the rock steady phase, during Perry’s short-lived partnership with Joe Gibbs, “I Am The Upsetter” was also aimed at Dodd, and it became another signature tune.
WINDOW: 15_I_Am_The_Upsetter.wav (cut to circa 1:04, run to 1:37 and BED)
ACTY: 17_DKVO7.wav Then, after Perry and Gibbs fell out over payment, Gibbs became the target of “People Funny Boy,” a landmark hit that helped birth the new reggae style in 1968.
MUSIC/BED: 18_People_Funny_Boy.wav (0:01-0:49 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “People Funny Boy,” People Funny Boy box set, ASIN: B07Q9HNX1K)
ACTY: 19_DKVO8.wav The song was inspired by the music of a pocomania church service, that’s one of the African-derived Pentecostal churches in Jamaica, and the sound of a crying baby brought home the concept of the lyrics, with Gibbs reaping by the sweat of Perry’s brow, the baby’s cries lifted from a sound effects record that the engineer Linford Anderson introduced to Perry.
ACTY: 20_LP4.wav We decided to make a song together and we make the “People Funny Boy,” and him find a rhythm which have the baby was crying, so he want me to hear it, and when me listen to it, it exactly looked like what we were talking about, cause the baby was hungry, didn’t have no food ah yard, so we make the song cos it matched with what goes on.
GEORGES: THE HIT REPORTEDLY SOLD 60,000 COPIES ON RELEASE, ALLOWING PERRY TO ESTABLISH HIS UPSETTER RECORD SHOP AND LABEL.
WINDOW: 18_People_Funny_Boy.wav (few more seconds and FADE)
WINDOW/BED: 21_Return_Of_Django.wav (0:01-0:16 and BED)
(Upsetters, “Return Of Django,” Return of Django CD, ASIN: B07BF1Z3PW)
ACTY: 22_DKVO9.wav Instrumental B-sides were becoming all the rage in Jamaica and Perry really excelled with instrumentals. In fact, when Perry’s attempted cover of Fats Domino’s “Sick And Tired” proved abortive, he released the rhythm track as the instrumental “Return Of Django,” which reached the British top-ten in September 1969, following its use in a Cadbury’s chocolate advertisement, bringing Perry and his Upsetters band to Britain on tour.
WINDOW: 21_Return_Of_Django.wav (few more seconds and FADE)
WINDOW/BED: 23_Duppy_Conqueror.wav (0:01-0:32 and BED)
(Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Duppy Conqueror,” Small Axe CD, ASIN: B0040ZA1ZK)
ACTY: 24_DKV10.wav Then Perry produced a series of incredible hits with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the defiant “Duppy Conqueror” one of the most impressive of their entire career. Marley lived for a long period in Perry’s front room, the uncommon partnership completely restructuring the Wailers sound and preparing them for international stardom, as heard on other landmarks like “Mr Brown,” “Small Axe,” “400 Years” and “Dreamland.”
ACTY: 25_LP5.wav So I did find a different outlet amongst the white people in America and in England, and that was the market Bob were looking for, cos after Coxsone was finished with him, and Beverley’s, him didn’t have anywhere else to go. Well, he never even have anywhere actually proper to live, so me say, “You can take me front room, take this room and live, until you get yourself sort out.” So him become like me brother, and then like me did want somebody to help me deliver some message, and me put all my energy into it for him to go out on top.
GEORGES: WHEN THE WAILERS BROKE AWAY TO FORM THEIR TUFF GONG LABEL, STEALING PERRY’S RHYTHM SECTION IN THE PROCESS, PERRY TURNED HIS ATTENTION TO JUNIOR BYLES. HE SCORED BIG WITH THE RASTAFARI ANTHEM “BEAT DOWN BABYLON” IN 1972, PUNCTUATED BY THE SOUND OF A CRACKING WHIP.
MUSIC/BED: 26_Beat_Down_Babylon.wav (0:01-1:37 and BED)
(Junior Byles, “Beat Down Babylon,” Beat Down Babylon CD, ASIN: B0882PX7GN)
ACTY: 27_LP6.wav It’s a guy from Canada write the song, we re-write it over, me and Junior write it over to fit in now, on the scripture, with war, God fighting against Babylon.
WINDOW/BED: 28_Cow_Thief_Skank.wav (0:01-0:20 and BED)
(Lee Perry and Charlie Ace, “Cow Thief Skank,” Complete Upsetter Singles Vol 4 CD, ASIN: B000057ZC6)
GEORGES: PERRY WORKED CLOSELY WITH KING TUBBY IN THE EARLY 70s. THEY MIXED B-SIDES AT TUBBY’S HOME STUDIO, HELPING TO MAKE DUB AN ART FORM BY USING ALL SORTS OF REMIX TRICKS. “COW THIEF SKANK” BLENDED THREE OF PERRY’S EARLIER RECORDINGS IN A NEW SONG THAT DISSED RIVAL PRODUCER NINEY THE OBSERVER. ON THE DUB B-SIDE, TITLED “7¾ SKANK,” YOU CAN CLEARLY HEAR A JIGSAW!
WINDOW/BED: 29_Seven_And_Three_Quarters_Skank.wav (0:06-0:52 and BED)
(Charlie Ace & Upsetters, “7¾ Skank,” Complete Upsetter Singles Vol 4 CD, ASIN: B000057ZC6)
ACTY: 30_DKVO11.wav The ceaseless urge to experiment spurred Perry to open his own studio in late 1973, located on the grounds of his home in Washington Gardens, on Kingston’s western outskirts. It was first known as the Black Art studio and later as the Black Ark, established as a sanctuary for Rastafari’s Black faithful.
ACTY: 31_LP7.wav The Ark itself is like a heroism, and some mystic and mystery of the prophecy about the Ark that save some people, and at that time, I didn’t see life like I see it now, so I said well, if the Ark is the savior, and the Ark gonna save some people, let it be Black, and the message was we’re going to save all the people who Black. But then I never discover that it was white people that was going to save me!
MUSIC/BED: 32_Hurt_So_Good.wav (0:01-1:05 and BED)
(Susan Cadogan, “Hurt So Good,” Susan Cadogan CD, ASIN: B00007GY2J)
GEORGES: SUSAN CADOGAN’S “HURT SO GOOD” WAS THE FIRST HIT TO EMERGE FROM THE BLACK ARK, REACHING THE UK TOP-TEN IN THE SPRING OF 1975. BUT BECAUSE OF A DUBIOUS SUBLICENSING DEAL, PERRY DID NOT REAP WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE FROM THE HIT. AND NEITHER DID CADOGAN BY THE WY. BUT PERRY WAS ABLE TO UPGRADE THE ARK WITH BETTER EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING A SOUNDCRAFT MIXING DESK, MU-TRON BI-PHASE AND ROLAND SPACE ECHO. ALL THIS ATTRACTED INTEREST FROM ISLAND RECORDS.
MUSIC/BED: 33_War_In_A_Babylon.wav (0:01-1:05 and BED)
(Max Romeo, “War In A Babylon,” War Ina Babylon CD, ASIN: B00164POHI)
ACTY: 34_DKVO12.wav Max Romeo’s “War In A Babylon” described Jamaica’s volatile political situation, which often descended into violence as police, soldiers and partisan vigilantes enacted fierce battles in the streets.
MUSIC/BED: 35_Zions_Blood.wav (0:01-1:03 and BED)
(Upsetters, “Zion’s Blood,” Super Ape CD ASIN: B0000081Y9)
GEORGES: PERRY’S DUB MASTERWORK, SUPER APE, FEATURED INPUT FROM THE HEPTONES, PRINCE JAZZBO AND OTHER ARTISTS HE WAS WORKING WITH IN 1976. THE TITLE REFERENCED BLACK IDENTITY AND RASTAFARI CONSCIOUSNESS. IT ALSO ALLUDED TO PERRY’S PRIMORDIAL, SIMIAN ALTER EGO.
MUSIC/BED: 36_Police_And_Thieves.wav (0:01-1:32 and BED)
(Junior Murvin, “Police And Thieves,” Police And Thieves CD, ASIN: B00004KS3V)
ACTY: 37_DKVO13.wav: Junior Murvin’s “Police And Thieves” referenced the lethal animosity between the two, since both were seeking to rob ordinary Jamaicans, according to Perry.
ACTY: 38_LP8.wav: Things like that, most times, it come by the thing that is happening; an artist might say, “You know what happened down ah street? The police want to kill thieves, or police and thieves are at war,” and something like that. So, it start in the ghetto, then the police ah watch something and when him discover the thief thieve it before he gets to it, it become a big war because the police did want to thieve it too, and the thief thieve it before the police, so it make the police get really mad inside; it’s like they kill the thief also, so the thief decide to kill the police too.
ACTY: 39_DKVO14.wav Perry said that he was particularly proud of the song, which became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, memorably inspiring a punk cover version by the Clash.
MUSIC/BED: 40_Punky_Reggae_Party.wav (0:01-0:49 and BED)
(Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Punky Reggae Party,” Exodus CD (Deluxe Edition) ASIN: B00005LANG)
GEORGES: AND SPEAKING OF PUNK, PERRY DEMONSTRATED HIS ALLEGIANCE TO THE FORM WITH BOB MARLEY’S (need to get this title from another take) “PUNKY REGGAE PARTY.” PERRY TRIED TO PRODUCE THE CLASH’S “COMPLETE CONTROL.” BUT IT DIDN’T WORK OUT. RECORDINGS THAT FORMER SEX PISTOL JOHN LYDON MADE AT THE BLACK ARK WERE REJECTED DUE TO INFERIOR QUALITY.
MUSIC/BED: 41_Congo_Man.wav (0:01-1:17 and BED)
(The Congos, “Congo Man,” Black Swan 12-inch BS1, no ASIN)
ACTY: 42_DKVO15.wav By then, Perry was working with the Congos harmony group on the firsts of many problematic projects. Their album Heart of the Congos is considered a masterpiece today, but Island rejected it as uncommercial during the late 1970s.
WINDOW/BED: 43_Roast_Fish_And_Cornbread.wav (0:01-0:42 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Roast Fish and Cornbread,” Roast Fish Collie Weed & Cornbread CD, ASIN: B000001SY7)
GEORGES: PERRY’S ALBUMS ROAST FISH COLLIE WEED AND CORNBREAD AND RETURN OF THE SUPER APE WERE SHELVED FOR SIMILAR REASONS. (0:10)
WINDOW: 44_African_Roots.wav (0:01-0:56 and BED)
(Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo, “African Roots,” African Roots CD, ASIN: B000EMSTYI)
GEORGES: A FUSION PROJECT RECORDED WITH CONGOLESE MUSICIANS SEKE MOLENGA (SEH-kay mo-LEN-ga) AND KALO KAWONGOLO (KAH-low kah-WON-golo) HAD ALL KINDS OF POTENTIAL, BUT IT WAS PROBABLY AHEAD OF ITS TIME. THE SESSION BECAME ANOTHER ISLAND RECORDS REJECT, POSSIBLY BECAUSE OF AUDIBLE DISTORTION ON THE MASTER TAPE.
GEORGES: COMING UP, CONFLICT AT THE BLACK ARK, A DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATION AND FURTHER ADVENTURES IN PERRY’S MUSIC AND ART. VISIT AFROPOP.ORG TO SEE OUR PLAYLIST FOR THIS SHOW AND MORE ON LEE SCRATCH PERRY. I’M GEORGES COLLINET AND YOU’RE LISTENING TO AFROPOP WORLDWIDE, FROM PRX.
WINDOW: (20-second break): 45_Bird_In_Hand.wav (circa 2:55-3:15)
(Lee Perry, “Bird In Hand,” Return of the Super Ape CD, ASIN: B000001SYA)
MUSIC/BED: 46_City_Too_Hot.wav (0:01-1:02 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “City Too Hot,” Babylon A Fall CD, ASIN: B0152D3NQM)
GEORGES: WE’RE BACK WITH PRODUCER AND BIOGRAPHER DAVID KATZ, TRACING LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY’S UNIQUE MUSICAL EVOLUTION. IN 1977 AND 78, ALL IS NOT WELL AT HIS BLACK ARK STUDIO.
ACTY: 47_DKVO16.wav “City Too Hot” was the first release to show Perry feeling the strain, as various pressures came to bear. There was the never-ending workload as sessions stretched throughout the night, the menacing presence of police, soldiers and gang members as Jamaica became increasingly volatile, and an overconsumption of ganja and white rum muddling Perry’s mind.
WINDOW/BED: 46_City_Too_Hot.wav (few more seconds, then BED)
ACTY: 48_DKVO17.wav He had conflict with his peers over their dreadlocks and his involvement with radical Rastafari subgroup, the Nyabinghi Theocracy, turned sour; then, his long-term partner, Pauline, with whom he had several children, ran off with one of the singers he’d been working with.
WINDOW/BED: 49_I_Know_A_Place.wav (0:01-0:50 and BED)
(Bob Marley, “I Know A Place,” Lee Perry Connection CD, ASIN: B00008XRUM)
ACTY: 50_DKVO18.wav “Who Colt The Game” and “I Know A Place” were the last songs Bob Marley recorded with Perry, but conflict over small change for a car part caused a rupture that would never be repaired.
WINDOW/BED: 51_Don’t_Sell_Daddy_No_Whiskey.wav (0:08-0:48 and BED)
(Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus, “Don’t Sell Daddy No Whiskey,” Love Thy Neighbor CD, ASIN: B0000012T7)
GEORGES: RAS MICHAEL AND THE SONS OF NEGUS’S LOVE THY NEIGHBOR WAS ONE OF THE LAST ALBUMS RECORDED AT THE BLACK ARK. PERRY SHUT THE STUDIO DOORSWON IN JANUARY 1979, BANISHING ALL OUTSIDERS. ON LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, AROUND THAT TIME, PERRY’S DRAMATIC NEW PERSONA AS PIPECOCK JACKXON EMERGED, PRODUCING CRYPTIC GRAFFITI RATHER THAN MUSIC.
MUSIC/BED: 52_Give_Thankx_To_Jah.wav (0:09-1:43 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Give Thankx To Jah,” The Return Of Pipecock Jackxon LP, ASIN: B005P39ZQ2)
ACTY: 53_DKVO19.wav The Black Ark had a leaking roof and Perry’s equipment was malfunctioning. When American expatriates based in Amsterdam approached Perry about back-catalogue reissues, they began refurbishing the space to Perry’s specification, recording The Return Of Pipecock Jackxon between the wreckage of the Ark and Amsterdam. A new drum booth was built above a pond for waterbirds and a top-of-the range mixing desk was installed, but when the new equipment failed to work, Perry trashed the space and closed its doors once more. (0:30)
WINDOW/BED 54_Guerilla_Priest.wav (0:30-1:28 and BED)
(Lee Perry and the Terrorists, “Guerilla Priest,” Forces 1977-82 CD, ASIN: B00005MKTV)
ACTY: 55_DKVO20.wav Perry spent some time in New York in the early 1980s, working with white reggae band, The Terrorists.
WINDOW/BED: 56_Holy_Moses.wav (0:01-0:35 and BED)
(Lee Perry and the Majetics, “Holy Moses,” Mystic Miracle Star CD, ASIN: B0000003XH)
ACTY: 57_DKVO21.wav Then, Upstate band The Majestics travelled to Jamaica to record the Mystic Miracle Star LP, working at Dynamics and Aquarius, since the Black Ark was no longer functional. And shortly after they left Jamaica, there was a fire that destroyed the Ark’s control room; Perry said he burned the studio to remove the negative energy that had contaminated it.
ACTY: 58_LP9.wav I know all the energy that was happening was flying, coming from there, from the Black Ark, and I know when I start in this business, I didn’t go to no Obeah man to start, so I think wise, and so that is the thought that tell me to burn it down and see what happened.
GEORGES: THERE HAS BEEN SPECULATION ON PERRY’S SANITY EVER SINCE.
ACTY: 59_LP10.wav All now I’m still mad. Me still mad! If me didn’t mad, me wouldn’t burn down the best studio in the world.
WINDOW/BED: 60_Funky_Joe.wav (0:01-0:29 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Funky Joe,” History Mystery Prophecy CD, ASIN: B000003QIF)
GEORGES: WITHOUT THE ARK TO ANCHOR HIM, PERRY BECAME A WANDERING NOMAD. CHRIS BLACKWELL OF ISLAND RECORDS BROUGHT HIM TO THE BAHAMAS TO RECORD HISTORY, MYSTERY, PROPHECY, AN UNEASY BLEND OF REGGAE, RAP AND NEW WAVE. THE ALBUM WAS RELEASED IN 1984, JUST AS PERRY RELOCATED TO LONDON.
WINDOW/BED: 61_Judgement_Inna_Babylon.wav (0:05-0:25 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Judgement Inna Babylon,” Upsetter Selection CD, ASIN: B000KN99KO)
ACTY: 62_DKVO22.wav “Judgement Inna Babylon” was the first song to surface after the move. Voiced at Mad Professor’s Ariwa studio using a rhythm built in Jamaica at Music Mountain, it was aimed squarely at Chris Blackwell’s head.
WINDOW/BED: 63_Judgement_Inna_Babylon.wav (3:00-3:20 and BED)
ACTY: 64_DKVO23.wav But Perry said they enjoyed a very special friendship and acknowledged that Blackwell was an important catalyst in the spread of reggae music worldwide.
ACTY: 65_LP11.wav Chris was like, him was me friend, without business; him see me make music, he was hypnotised, him think it’s magic. It was his desire, he want to meet me and do things for me like get me anything me need, or anything that me want. So me and him was different, it’s just to me like, he did vex when me talk those things about him, because something never right, and me never like what it was, so me say, “OK, me going upset him, and see how him take it.” [Laughs]. But, what happened between me and him is supposed to be so, and me can say without him, reggae music would never reach that far to where it reach now; he put a lot of effort into it. And nobody else couldn’t try with Bob and him reach so far neither.
WINDOW/BED: 66_I_Am_A_Madman.wav (0:01-0:33 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “I Am A Madman,” Battle of Armagideon CD, ASIN: B00005Q45H))
GEORGES: ON “I AM A MADMAN,” PERRY EMBRACED THE IDEA THAT HE WAS CRAZY, USING HIS INDIVIDUALISM TO CHALLENGE NEGATIVITY.
WINDOW/FADE: 67_I_Am_A_Madman.wav (run circa 2:19-2:25 and FADE)
WINDOW/BED: 68_25_Years_Ago.wav (fade up circa 0:27, run to 0:57 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “25 Years Ago,” Mystic Warrior CD, ASIN: B07G2MKSFN)
GEORGES: ON “25 YEARS AGO,” PERRY CONTINUED TO PROFESS INSANITY, THE RESULT OF TOO MANY RECORD COMPANY RIP-OFFS. THE SONG SURFACED ON THE FIRST OF MANY ALBUMS RECORDED WITH MAD PROFESSOR, PERRY’S FREQUENT TOURING PARTNER.
WINDOW/FADE: 68_25_Years_Ago.wav (few more bars, then FADE)
WINDOW/BED: 69_Jungle.wav (fade up circa 0:56, run to circa 1:19 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Jungle,” Time Boom X De Devil Dead CD, ASIN: B074R58TC4)
ACTY: 70_DKVO24.wav In the mid-1980s, Perry made a strong connection with the inventive English producer Adrian Sherwood, the bond a lasting one that resulted in some of his greatest post-Ark work.
ACTY: 71_LP12.wav He’s a smart fellow, him white but him think Black. So me only choose good-minded people to work with and people with scientifical mind, scientifical brain, educational brain, arts and crafts.
WINDOW/BED: 72_Sexy_Boss.wav (0:01-0:25 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Sexy Boss,” Spiritual Healing CD, Black Cat 14998/26, no ASIN)
ACTY: 73_DKVO25.wav After experiencing visa problems in Britain, Perry returned to Jamaica and then moved to Switzerland after beginning a relationship with a woman named Mireille, who he would marry at a Hare Krishna Temple. They began a family and would remain together to the end of his days, the song “Sexy Boss” celebrating their union.
WINDOW/BED: 72_Sexy_Boss.wav (0:54-1:15 and BED)
ACTY: 74_LP13.wav That’s Mireille. I don’t know if it’s Obean, she Obeah me, or what, but it is a nice person that carry me out of my hard times. She save me from lots of problems in Jamaica, hard time and suffering and take me here with her, so, maybe that’s why me did really last so long, because she do me a favour at that time.
WINDOW/BED: 75_Dr_Lee_PhD.wav (0:01-0:46 and BED)
(Beastie Boys [& Lee Perry], “Dr Lee, PhD,” Hello Nasty CD, ASIN: B01M33NM53)
GEORGES: IN THE LATE ‘90s, A COLLABORATION WITH THE BEASTIE BOYS TITLED “DR LEE PhD” INTRODUCED PERRY’S WORK TO A WHOLE NEW AUDIENCE. PERRY WAS SOON IN DEMAND AS A LIVE PERFORMER, AND HE WENT ON TO COLLABORATE WITH A RANGE OF ARTISTS IN OTHER GENRES, INCLUDING THE ORB, KEITH RICHARDS, AND GEORGE CLINTON.
WINDOW/BED: 76_Rastafari_On_Wall_Street.wav (0:01-0:38 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Rastafari On Wall Street,” Back On The Controls CD, ASIN: B00ILS37TE)
ACTY: 77_DKVO26.wav Perry began working with upcoming British producer Daniel Boyle in 2012, cutting a competent series of releases with similar gear to that used at the Black Ark, beginning with the album Back On The Controls.
WINDOW: 76_Rastafari_On_Wall_Street.wav (few more seconds, then fade)
MUSIC/BED: 78_Iron Devil.wav (0:01-2:08)
(Dubbelstandart ft. Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound System, “Iron Devil,” Subatomic Sound 12-inch, SS008, no ASIN)
GEORGES: PERRY WORKED WITH THE AUSTRIAN DUB CREW DUBBELSTANDART, AND THAT LED TO HIS COLLABORATION WITH NEW YORK’S SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM. SUBATOMIC BECAME PERRY’S OFFICIAL U.S. BACKING BAND, AND THEY STARTED REWORKING HIS BACK CATALOGUE CREATING NEW INTERPRETATIONS AIMED AT A YOUNGER AUDIENCE.
WINDOW/BED: 79_Underground_Roots.wav (fade up circa 2:11 to circa 3:44 and BED)
(Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound, “Underground Roots,” Super Ape Returns To Conquer CD, ASIN: B0000563FS)
MUSIC/BED: 80_Makumba_Rock.wav (0:01-2:30 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Makumba Rock,” Rainford CD, ASIN: B07NRJRPML)
GEORGES: FLITTING BETWEEN JAMAICA AND SWITZERLAND AND OFTEN ON FAR-FLUNG TOURS, PERRY RECORDED WITH ALL AND SUNDRY, YIELDING MIXED RESULTS. BUT HIS WORK WITH ADRIAN SHERWOOD CONTINUED TO BEAR THE HALLMARK OF QUALITY. HEAVY RAIN, THE DUB COMPANION TO THE RAINFORD ALBUM, HIT NUMBER ONE ON THE BILLBOARD ALBUM CHARTS IN 2019.
WINDOW/BED: 81_Here_Come_The_Warm_Dreads.wav (fade up 2:14-3:03, then BED from 0:01)
(Lee Scratch Perry, “Here Come The Warm Dreads,” Heavy Rain CD, ASIN: B07Y1ZSDNF)
ACTY: 82_DKVO27.wav During one of our last formal interviews, Perry said he was delighted to know that his work had a positive influence on much of his audience.
ACTY: 83_LP14.wav Me want to live to see some of the people who take my word, how far them reach in life. It make me feel very happy because they follow my education and my education becomes their livication, and my education didn’t come from the school, it come from nature and the earth, wind, and fire. And me tell it to lots of people and them follow it, and it make some rich and make some happy and heal some hearts and heal some brains. So I have more reason to live.
WINDOW/BED: 84_Autobiography_Of_The_Upsetter.wav (0:01-0:45 and BED)
(Lee Perry, “Autobiography Of The Upsetter,” Rainford CD, ASIN: B07NRJRPML)
GEORGES: LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY LEFT OUR EARTHLY DOMAIN ON AUGUST 28th 2021 AND THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT HIS LEGACY IS ASSURED. YOU CAN HEAR ECHOES OF HIS INNOVATIVE PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES IN RAP MUSIC, JUNGLE AND DUBSTEP, IN AMBIENT INSTRUMENTALS AND VARIOUS FORMS OF ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC, AS WELL AS IN POST-PUNK AND EXPERIMENTAL JAZZ.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LIFE AND WORK OF THIS INCOMPARABLE FIGURE, YOU’LL WANT TO READ DAVID KATZ’S AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY, PEOPLE FUNNY BOY: THE GENIUS OF LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY, PUBLISHED BY WHITE RABBIT BOOKS.
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