Lee “Scratch” Perry – Rise Again

January 01, 1970

(MOD
Technologies)

 

www.mod-technologies.com

 

At 75,
Lee “Scratch” Perry is now something of a visionary for his groundbreaking
production work that became the template for dub reggae, and by extension
influenced the sample-based sound of some rap music. But after all these years,
Perry sounds as playful as ever when he free-associates in this collaboration
with bassist-producer Bill Laswell. In “Scratch Message,” he runs from the
somber to silly: “I conquer death/ Beth – I conquer Beth/ Elizabeth – I conquer
Elizabeth/ I
conquer Prince Charles.” Later in “Butterfly,” he sings “God bless my daughter
and my daughter is water/ God bless my starter and my starter is fire,” which
cues the sound of a lighter being flicked on the beat.

 

Laswell
piloted these sessions, bringing in a series of guests that include everyone
from reggae stalwart Sly Dunbar (drums), Bernie Worrell (keyboards) to TV On
the Radio vocalist Tunde Adebimpe. The first half of the album gets a relaxed
groove going, without really shaking the foundation. As Perry repeats a few choice
phrases, Steven Bernstein (trumpet) and Peter Apfelbaum (saxophone) blow some
minor riffs that work well with Worrell’s B3 grooves. But for an album
involving both Perry and Laswell, the bass sits politely toward the background
instead of standing at the forefront, rattling the woofers.

 

That
all changes during the second half of the album. Laswell has back-loaded the album
with dirty grooves that pump up the bass and utilize dub effects that give it
the feel of surround-sound. (That’s Perry voice bouncing off the wall behind
you, not somebody talking over your shoulder.) “Butterfly” throws all of this
together in one pot, along with some tranquil vocals presumably from Adebimpe
(the songs don’t have individual personnel credits). In “Inakaya” the lyrics consist
mainly of Perry repeating, “Japanese food, Japanese food/ Give you good mood,”
but the wash of dub echoes and the trademark breakdown of the beat in the
middle, all make it easy to overlook the lyrical limitations.

 

Although
Perry comes off a bit like a guest start, surrounded by someone else’s
production, at least half the time it sounds a lot like the way he would do it
himself.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Butterfly,” Dancehall
Kung Fu.” MIKE
SHANLEY

 

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