Two and a half years after his death, Jamaican singer and producer Lee “Scratch” Perry surprises with new recordings. The album “King Perry” features his definitive last song.
Perry’s musical career began in the late 1950s as a record seller for Clement Coxsone Dodd’s sound system. As his sometimes turbulent relationship with Dodd developed, he found himself performing a variety of important tasks at Dodd’s Studio One hit factory, going on to record nearly thirty songs for the label
In 1968, he founded his own label, Upsetter Records, under the banner of which his first successful single “People Funny Boy” was released. At that time he was already fully developing his unmistakable signature as a producer. Through remixes, studio techniques and sound effects, he pioneered a new branch of reggae in the 1970s that came to be called dub.
His influence on popular music was profound. His influence over popular music since the 1970s is hugely significant, with artists including Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Clash, Beastie Boys, Max Romeo, Junior Murvin and The Orb all enriched by Perry’s legendary touch, innovative studio techniques and production style.
Over a career spanning six decades, Lee Scratch Perry left the music world with a huge catalogue of albums, productions and appearances that cannot be underestimated. Releases for Island Records, Trojan, Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound, Mad Professor’s Ariwa…the list goes on. It was in 2014 that Perry teamed up with UK producer Daniel Boyle, and from this collaboration came the Grammy nominated album ‘Back At The Controls’ and was followed up five years later with the ‘Black Album’.
“I am an artist, a musician, a magician, a writer, a singer, I am everything. My name is Lee from the African jungle, originally from West Africa. I am a man from elsewhere, but my roots through reincarnation go from Africa to Jamaica. I was reborn there”
New album with several guests
“King Perry” is one of the musician’s two posthumous albums. Was born out of a request from Perry that he “wanted to do something new, something different but still with a dub framework”. And so, armed with influences as diverse as synthwave, big beat, drum & bass and electronica, Boyle and Perry traded ideas, beats and lyrics in a project that continued to grow as its various guest performers were added, resulting in a kaleidoscopic and engaging melting pot of rhythms, melodies, and voices. Poignantly, closing track ‘Goodbye’ was Perry’s last ever recorded vocal performance.
Otherwise Lee Scratch Perry has performed several times at the Slovak Uprising festival. In 2018 I had the honour to enjoy one of his performances in person. He was old and it was clear from the beginning that he was not in the best shape, but I still endured until the end. Most of the other audience members had no idea what a legend was being handed to them at that moment.
And finally, one more quote, because when it comes to the secret of success, Perry was clear about it: “Love”, he once revealed in an interview, “and also truth and truthfulness. Only the truth can save humanity. So my advice is to speak in songs only the truth. God loves the truth.”
Róbert Gregor (foto: FB Lee Scratch Perry)