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Lee "Scratch" Perry: Dub-Triptych

Album Reviews:

Q (p.139) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[L]ost gems from '73 and '75..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.123) - 5 stars out of 5 - "Essential."

Album Notes

Lee "Scratch" Perry's eccentric persona (he's either crazy as a loon or crazy as a fox) often obscures the incredibly innovative approaches he brought to Jamaican music, and his kitchen-sink recording methods likewise cloak the very real vision behind his one-of-a-kind creations. Perry is quite simply reggae's one true auteur, and no matter who is singing or playing at a Perry session, the finished result is all Scratch. This two-disc set collects three early Perry dub albums, Cloak & Dagger (recorded in 1972, but released in 1973), Blackboard Jungle Dub (originally called Rhythm Shower and also released in 1973), and Revolution Dub (1975). Put together like this, the triptych shows a clear development of Perry's unique version of dub, from the mostly pure backing track instrumentals of Cloak & Dagger through the early restructurings, complete with sound effect additions, to the very beginning of Perry's famous Black Ark sound on Revolution Dub. That it all fits together like multiple pieces in one crazy quilt is a tribute to Perry's singular touch. From the gorgeous soul meets reggae meets jazz feel of "Hail Stone" through the brassy "Jungle Lion," the thundering "Black Panta," and the odd, spooky "Bush Weed," everything here is fascinating, a sort of avant-garde dub jazz, and given Perry's frequent spoken interjections, a strange kind of Jamaican beat poetry emerges. Only Scratch could (or would) spin a track off of the melody to "Pop Goes the Weasel," as he does in "Jungle Jim," and make it stick. Again, whether Perry is crazy as a loon or crazy as a fox, there is a strong vision at work here, and once you've surrendered to its joyful lunacy, a wonderful and wild world emerges, a sort of mirror image of the one you expect. ~ Steve Leggett


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