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Album Review

Having broken ranks with label owner Joe Gibbs with his venomous track "People Funny Boy," producer, singer, and upsetter Lee "Scratch" Perry spent some productive years scattered about the musical landscape, working for numerous labels and putting his wild spin on rocksteady, blue beat, and R&B-flavored reggae. Pressure Sound's desirable set High Plains Drifter: Jamaican 45's 1968-73 collects the forgotten moments from this era, some so forgotten that artist information has disappeared, including the vocalist for the included version of "Don't Want to Lose You" which is dreamy and for Scratch, surprisingly soft. Still, it feels like proto-Congos stuff, which is all a Perry fan needs to hear, but they'll be satisfied once Val Bennett blows the set open with "Val Blows In," a jovial roll over the Upsetters' own hit "Django Shoots First." Later, it’s the Mellotones working with a steel pan group on a mix of their "What a Botheration" and Count Sticky getting funky in a blaxploitation manner with the wonderful "Rockford Psychedelion." Add mad genius Perry acting silly with the sound effects on "A Big Joke" and longtime followers get more than enough weirdness to sign on, but after all the rareness and uniqueness, there's the sweetness, as Junior Byles offers a "One Love"-sized Jamaica anthem with "Rub Up Festival '71", even if all the "fat and juicy" women talk kept it off the tourism board's consideration list. Barely any of it is as dark and dank as the dub work Perry would dispatch from his later home, the Black Ark Studio, but hearing all the different roads he could have taken is fascinating, and considering the wealth of lighthearted material, very fun.


Born: 20 March 1936 in Hanover, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Some call him a genius, others claim he's certifiably insane, a madman. Truth is, he's both, but more importantly, Lee Perry is a towering figure in reggae -- a producer, mixer, and songwriter who, along with King Tubby, helped shape the sound of dub and made reggae music such a powerful part of the pop music world. Along with producing some of the most influential acts (Bob Marley & the Wailers and the Congos to name but two) in reggae history, Perry's approach to production and dub mixing was breathtakingly...
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High Plains Drifter, Lee "Scratch" Perry
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