Saturday, June 24, 2006

If it Ital, It Vital

Last week, my spiritual godfather and all time hero, Rainford Hugh Perry, aka Lee "Scratch" Perry performed in Jamaica for the first time in almost 30 years. Now, I'm a fan of Scratch's music and everything he's brought to the table -- if Scratch had not existed, reggae in its modern form, in its best form, in its most innovative form would not have existed.

But as a stage performer, Scratch is legendarily...erm...obtuse. Onstage, he's always accompanied by his wife Mireille, who's basically Sharon Osbourne with a swiss accent. She cues him, guides him, leads him onstage and off like a lost child -- she's always within arm's length, even standing onstage with him as he performs. I don't know if that's a positive or negative thing. I mean, she's kept him alive so far....but for what purpose? And what kind of life does he have?

Anyway, I've heard stories about Scratch Perry performances. Abruptly walking offstage in the middle of a set. Shouting out nonsensical or absurdly wise phrases. Repeating said phrases ad nauseum. Weird interaction with audience members. Forgetting to perform any music at all and just going off into one long ramble. His sets are generally considered weak. Still. I'd be mesmerized just to see him in person.

He's supposed to perform at the upcoming Woodstock concert in New York with Bunny Wailer only Bunny is threatening to pull out due to still lingering beef with Mr. Perry. Hopefully brothers can work it out, but if anyone can hold a grudge like a Sicilian, it's a Jamaican.

"Roast Fish and Cornbread" was inspired by what his friend Jah Lion had for lunch. This track is very dreamy, very hallucinogenic -- not surprising considering what Scratch was allegedly using for "sustenance" at the time this was recorded. Not his all time best, but memorable just the same.
Roast Fish and Cornbread.mp3

"Curly Locks" sounds like a raw demo that was tested out before Junior Byles made it into a timeless classic. This is spare and almost brittle, but appealing. Scratch has never been a crooner, but he makes this version almost touching. The background vocals by his longtime studio singers Full Experience make a full difference.
Curly Locks.mp3

My all time favorite. Soul Fire is funky and addictve. You clean house with this in the background and you hum it all day. The track works with Perry's reedy voice very well, I think of it as one of his all time best.
Soul Fire.mp3



I could give a fuck about these two. Seriously. Shut the fuck up and go away already.

And take Maddox and the rest of your menagerie with you.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Just play it cool,stick by the rules.

I'm not a church goer. I use to be, but I've dropped off lately. Grappling with my faith and all that nonsense.

Ah, I'm just a selfish bitch. When times are tough, I'm on my knees,and then when I'm alright I start doubting. If I were God, I'd be pissed all the time.

I dont know much about the singer Bobby Melody. He's a contemporary of such greats as Johnny Osbourne and Barry Brown. He was a member of Yabby You's brilliant group The Prophets (I'll be profiling them later on) before going out on his own. He recorded for various producers until he hit it big with Joe Gibbs, recording his biggest and best known hit Joy in the Morning (Jah Bring I).

Anyway, I thought it would be a nice Sunday morning addition.

Jah Bring I Joy.mp3


Friday, June 16, 2006

The Foundation

This is my first time at the rodeo that is Internet blogging. I'm not particularly 'Net savvy, so I've been having a bit of initial probs. Anyway. The plan for this blog is to pay homage to the lost art of reggae music. Not the Sean Paul/Elephant Man trash that currently stinks up the airwaves (some of it's good, but much much more of it suuuucks), but the lates and the greats. The guys that don't get mentioned anymore like the Cornell Campbells, the Johnny Clarkes, the King Tubbys, etc.

I'll also be ranting about various things so this will also serve as my own special padded room.

Anyway, let's start with the Crown Prince, shall we?

Now we all know Dennis was a crackhead. I mean, we know this. It was well documented and he really wasn't the only one who fell victim to the "White Lady" (I'm looking at you, Gregory)

Yet we loved him. And when they play his best stuff, time, for me anyway, stops. So you'll be seeing a lot of him on this blog.

No good reggae discography is complete without a few "singovers". And when you have output as prolific as artists like Dennis Brown (something like over 1000 singles)you're going to end up with a few "re-interpretations". If anyone could make a song his own, it was D. Brown.

Osvaldo Farres' Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps has been sung by everyone from Nat King Cole (well) to Geri Halliwell (badly) and is probably best known as the theme to the British TV show Coupling. D. Brown did two versions.

The first version was done in about 1970. This was the first version I heard and loved. This one is from the "If I Follow My Heart" album.


The second version was featured on the 1982 Stagecoach Showcase album. This one is a bit more subtle, with a faster tempo, without the "wah-wah" guitars. It might have been an outtake from the first recording session that was licensed and put on this compilation album.


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