At 75 years of age, Lee “Scratch” Perry should be declared a living cultural treasure and receive the protection and reverence usually reserved artists only after they are long dead. The only other musician of his age that comes close to matching Scratch’s output and longevity is Willie Nelson. Long considered one of the most innovative producers in popular music, Perry is perhaps best known for helping Bob Marley launch his career in the late ‘60s.
The most startling thing about this album is the fact that something like this hasn't been done before. How can it be that two of the foremost exponents of extraterrestrial bass-oriented music -- reggae producer and inscrutable solo artist Lee "Scratch" Perry and ubiquitous producer and bassist Bill Laswell -- have failed to collaborate on an album before now? This meeting brings out the best of them by, paradoxically, tempering both of their wildest tendencies. Perry's sing-song declamations are quirky as always, but not as flat-out crazy (not to mention childishly scatological) as they have been in other recent contexts; Laswell's bass is just as bottomless and as richly melodic as it usually is, but his tendency toward discursive improvisational chaos has been reined in for purposes of maximum groove production.
Lee “Scratch” Perry turned 75 this year. He has been part of reggae music literally for as long as reggae music has existed. His huge influence on reggae, and dub especially, as producer and artist, is undeniable. For the past couple decades, though, Perry has been more of a curiosity than a musician in the traditional sense.
When people who smoke ganja all day consider you strange, you may be a little strange. Or, to put it another way, the myth of the mad genius has been well worn at least since the Romantics (not to mention a source of frustration for those who’d like to see a realistic approach to mental illness); but sometimes a figure comes along who reminds us of the reason for the existence of a particular trope, and Lee “Scratch” Perry is just such a figure. Like many oddball savants, his output has never been less than patchy, but the high points (and I mean high points, though Perry is now sober) loft on incense-fumed clouds to such an exalted plane that they continue to sustain the legend as it rises from misfires and passes dead-ends.