Lee "Scratch" Perry - Dubstrumentals (Music CD)

Release Date: 16 October 2015
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Lee "Scratch" Perry's eccentric persona 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, Dubstrumentals, collects three mid-'70s Perry dub albums, Kung Fu Meets the Dragon, Return of the Wax, and Vin Gordon's Musical Bones (all three were released in the U.K. in 1975). Perry's legendary Black Ark Studio was up and running by this time -- it had become more or less operational at the close of 1973 -- and he was just beginning an amazing run of productions. Kung Fu Meets the Dragon benefits mightily from the presence of Augustus Pablo on melodica, which gives it all a vaguely Far Eastern vibe, and the sequence flows like nothing so much as the soundtrack to some long-lost Jamaican spaghetti western. Sound unlikely? Welcome to Scratch country. Return of the Wax was originally released as a limited-edition, white-label LP, and it is less dub proper than it is a deep, dense drum'n'bass set. Musical Bones is actually a sequence from Jamaican trombonist Vin Gordon (with Perry producing), featuring Gordon and friends fleshing out classic reggae rhythms with jazz structures and phrasing. Among the standout tracks on this double-disc reissue are the almost polka-sounding "Scorching Iron" from Kung Fu, the odd musical wisdom of "One Armed Boxer" from Wax and the weird, spooky "Licky Licky," complete with drunken-sounding trombone, from Bones. The real gem here, though, is a bonus track, an amazing and singular version of "House of the Rising Sun" done up as only Perry can do it as "Ark of the Rising Sun." Perry is often as much irritating as he is entertaining, but there is an undeniably strong vision at work here, and once you've surrendered to its joyful, surreal lunacy, a wonderful and wild world emerges, a sort of mirror image of the one you expect. ~ Steve Leggett
Release Date: 16 October 2015