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.
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.