Lee Perry`s, Adrian Sherwood-produced, Rainford, skanks with a limp. But its still a cool strut. Don’t forget the guy`s eighty-three. While the music is looped, stuttering in digital delay, the wordplay`s delivered in the same cackle as his 1968 Rocksteady self. Still teasing. Still feeding red herring in with the wisdom. Still waging war on exploiters, industry vampires.
“Users run, Superman has come.”
Calling for a Biblical flood to wash us clean of corruption, a rain of perfect love, to a march crafted by cello staccato. Horns blast in angelic fanfare in protest against humankind’s want, and greed. Melodica and I-Three-like harmony carry a narrative of money-worship and its accompanying nightmares. There are moments that resemble the genius – seeming simplicity – and warmth of the magic he worked with The Wailers. Its fug echoed in Run Evil Spirit`s bounced down Funk. Makumba Rock is a crazy Cosmic dance of pan-global percussion. Brazilian cuica not squeaking, but shouting. At one point Sherwood sees fit to suck the whole track inside out, causing an eruption of phase and twist. Fragments of Perry`s lyrics flying around like a cave full of sonar-impaired bats. Black Ark debris.
Perry may have worried the borders of madness and excess, lost two studios to fire. Toasted the flames with cocktails of gasoline and blackcurrant. But his creativity burns brightly yet. On African Starship Perry`s sweet vocals dodge bottom-end detonations. In a sparse soundscape of sub-bass subtraction. His Soul Fire EKO ComputeRhythm, worn out, and wounded, loyally taking calm, confident footsteps through the minefield. Albeit perhaps with the aid of a stick. While its master, dreaming, defiant, rallies for repatriation out into the universe, amidst the whispers of his past, Mento and Calypso ghosts.
The closing Autobiography Of The Upsetter is similarly wheezy and feels kinda poignant. Given Perry`s advancing years. Lighting on milestones in the musical legacy of the “little boy blue” from Kendal, Hanover, JA. Name-checking hits. Blackboard Jungle, and Curly Locks. Perry was instrumental in the worldwide popularization of Reggae. His fans stretching across genres and generations. From Brian Eno to The Clash, The Orb, The Beastie Boys, and Panda Bear. He calls out to collaborators. Bob Marley, Susan Cadogan, Prince Far I, Kishi, and Adrian. Sherwood and Perry first met in Palmer Records, in Harlesden. Back when Adrian was thirteen. But their friendship was forged in Southern Studios in 1986. As they traded rhythms, and began what would become the album, Time Boom X Devil Dead. After joining forces on and off for more than three decades, Sherwood has called Perry “One of the most important people in late 20th Century music.” His aliases are listed. Scratch, Pipecock Jackson, Dub Organizer. Finally revealing the name he was blessed with at birth. Rainford Hugh Perry.
If it feels a bit ominous, then I guess even a “madman”, whose motto is
“Forward ever, backwards never.”
sometimes needs to take stock and reflect.
Lee “Scratch” Perry`s Rainford is released by ON-U Sound on May 31st. You can order in a variety of formats here.
*Cover photograph care of Kishi Yamamoto.