Anyone with a passing interest in reggae has heard of Lee Perry also known as â€˜Scratchâ€™ or â€˜The Upsetterâ€™ but, over the last thirty years, Lee â€˜Scratchâ€™ Perry has become better known as a â€˜performance artistâ€™ rather than a performer, an artist or record producer. Yet Scratchâ€™s importance to the history of Jamaican music in particular, and recorded music in general, is second to none. He has made an incredible contribution to the development of reggae as a producer, arranger and writer and was the inspiration behind many of the key movements in the development of the music. In a business overcrowded with superlatives, the word â€˜geniusâ€™ is too often used to describe the most mediocre of talents. Lee Perry is, beyond question, a genuine genius and has been responsible for creating some of the greatest, most complex and seriously mystical music ever to come out of Jamaica.
For the six years it was operating, his Black Ark recording studio set standards that have never been bettered: it was there that Scratch moved his music in inventive and innovative directions that no-one else has, even now, thought to consider. Freed from the strictures of paying for studio time on an hourly rate his music became increasingly intense, multi-layered and extraordinarily experimental. â€˜Nativeâ€™ Wayne Jobson memorably described the Black Ark as â€œlike a medieval spaceship with Scratch at the controlsâ€ but, as the seventies drew to a close and the creative tension at the Black Ark kept on mounting, Scratch started to become increasingly out of control. His music was no longer selling well in Jamaica and the overseas record companies were bewildered with the tapes he sent them for release. But Scratchâ€™s music still found a home on the sound systems, the natural home of the musical renegade, in Jamaica, England, America and Canada. Sound system followers understood where The Upsetter was coming from, and where he was going to, even if the general public and record company executives failed to so.
The exclusive mixes showcased on this release have never been heard before outside of sound system dances. Some will be familiar through their commercial incarnations such as “Bucky Skank”, “History” and “Groovy Situation”, but here they have been pushed and pulled, coaxed and cajoled in hitherto unexplored and previously unimagined directions. This is music from a man coming to the end of his tetherâ€¦