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Heart of the Dragon

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Album Review

Enter from the East Bruce Lee, whose Fist of Fury film landed a wallop straight to the head of the West in 1972. This movie, bringing the marvels of martial arts to the screens, kicked off a kung fu furor that even crossed over into the pop charts with Carl Douglas' hit "Kung Fu Fighting." So it wasn't just Lee Perry who fell under this Oriental spell, although he took it further than most. In 1975, the producer dedicated an entire album to the theme, released by the DIP label under the clever title Kung Fu Meets the Dragon and reissued here as Heart of the Dragon. Inevitably, the Upsetter takes the day, but not before he drags listeners through the entire Eastern experience, via a series of instrumental/dubs (bar a final vocal track), and one begins with the dragon itself, down through its innards and out the other side. But surprisingly, perhaps, the majority of the set is highly musical and melodic; even the dubs are less abstract than much of his contemporary work. In fact, both "Theme from Hong Kong" and "Scorching Iron" feature prominent melodica, while "Hold Them Kung Fu" boasts a jaunty harmonica. None actually attempts to capture the sound of the East, although songs like "Black Belt Jones" do attempt to imitate the grunts and calls of a kung fu fighter at work. Today, another martial arts revival is well underway, and so, topically, the album hasn't really dated a bit. The Upsetter's obsessions paid off at the time, and now once again. A welcome reissue for a fascinating set.


Born: March 20, 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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