Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Birthday: Lee 'Scratch' Perry

We pay massive RAS-pect to the one and only Lee 'Scratch' Perry a.k.a. The Upsetter, born on this day in 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica. Perry was a pioneer of Dub music, yet set himself apart from others by his using effects and remixing to create instrumental versions of existing Reggae tracks. In the late 1960's, nearly 20 years before sampling became a staple in Hip-Hop music, Perry was already using the technique in his records. His first single on his own Upsetter label "People Funny Boy" (1968), samples the sound of a baby crying and is an insult record directed at Joe Gibbs. The sounds in this tune was identified as what is now known as "reggae".

Perry gained recording experience by working with label heads Clement Coxsone Dodd [Studio One] and Joe Gibbs [Amalgamated Records] before leaving them both due to pay disputes, which resulted in him building his own studio in his back yard that he called The Black Ark, in order to have more control over his productions. The music recorded at Black Ark was done using only basic recording equipment. However, his style and techniques made his music unique and key points of reference in Reggae history. With the help of his studio band The Upsetters, Perry produced notable musicians such as Bob Marley & the Wailers, Junior Byles, Junior Murvin, The Heptones, The Congos, Max Romeo and a list of other artists.

Due to overwhelming stress and unwanted outside influences taking their toll, both Perry and The Black Ark went into a state of disrepair. By 1978, the studio burned down and he insisted that he had done it himself from a fit of rage. Not long after, Perry started spending time in England and the United States. His career took a new direction after meeting and producing albums with British producers Marcus Downbeat (Battle Of Armagideon, 1986), Adrian Sherwood and Mad Professor, all who helped to get his career back on track again.

As of 2003, and a few years after, Perry won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album with the album Jamaican E.T.. Between 2007 and 2010, Perry recorded three albums with British producer, Steve Marshall. Steve had been Lee's friend and apprentice since 1984, and the albums featured performances by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic. Two of these albums, End Of An American Dream (2008) and Revelation (2010), received Grammy nominations in the category Best Reggae Album.

In honor of this legendary pioneer, I put together this mix titled 21 Dub Salute: Tribute to Lee 'Scratch' Perry as a free download for you all to enjoy.

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