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Published on June 17th, 2019 | by voxx

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Lee “Scratch” Perry – Rainford

The dub maestro delivers a late-period marvel…

He may have recently turned 83, but there are few signs reggae’s greatest living original is in any mood to hang up his badge-covered hat. With recent collaborations and his 2017 reworking of The Upsetters classic Super Ape, he’s been averaging over an album a year for the past decade. At times quality control has gone up in clouds of his beloved ganja smoke, but this pairing with On-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood is a glorious reminder of Perry’s unique musical gifts and unhinged imagination.

At a point in his career when many artists might be content to merely burnish their legacy, Perry sounds like he’s still living in the moment. There’s a wide-eyed, wondering quality to ‘Cricket On The Moon’, with its spring-loaded riddim, cosmic musings and strange, strangulated vocal, and he gleefully summons the ghosts of ’70s roots on ‘Run Evil Spirit’. Given the freedom to wander, yet anchored by Sherwood’s unerring low-frequency pulse, Perry seems entranced by each new musical setting he encounters, from the shamanic Afrobeat of ‘Makumba Rock’ to the jazzy abstractions of the Sun Ra-like ‘African Starship’.

Sherwood has compared their sessions to Rick Rubin’s late-period work with Johnny Cash, and, appropriately for an album titled after Perry’s birth name, there’s a similar up-close quality. Most affecting is the final track ‘Autobiography Of The Upsetter’ on which Perry surveys his extraordinary life over an irrepressible, celebratory skank that echoes the rocksteady swing of his youth. Even after all these years, there’s still no one quite like him.

- By Jake White


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