Skip to Main Content

Friday Drive
Friday September 3rd, 2021 with Trevor Walker
[Upsetter Take Over RIP]

Happy Friday "Drivers"! This week, with the passing of the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry on Audust 29th, I thought it would be fitting to do a Friday Drive mixtape of some of his music. I can’t claim to know much about Mr Perry beyond the fact that his music moves me and enough others making him one of Jamaica most famous musical exports who has contributed incredibly to Reggae music from the ska days. Born Rainford Hugh Perry in 1936 in a remote part of northwest Jamaica he became one of Jamaica’s greatest producers as well as a singer, songwriter, record label owner and a mystic. "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 innovative and audacious - no one else sounds like him - and while many claim that King Tubby invented dub, there are just as many who would argue that no one experimented with it or took it further than did Lee Perry. Born in the rural Jamaican village of St. Mary's in 1936, Perry began his surrealistic musical odyssey in the late '50s, working with ska man Prince Buster selling records for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Downbeat Sound System. Called "Little" Perry because of his diminutive stature (Perry stands 4'11"), he was soon producing and recording for Dodd at the center of the Jamaican music industry, Studio One. After a falling out with Dodd (throughout his career, Perry has had a tendency to burn his bridges after he stopped working with someone), Perry went to work at Wirl Records with Joe Gibbs. Perry and Gibbs never really saw eye to eye on anything, and in 1968, Perry left to form his own label, called Upsetter. Not surprisingly, Perry's first release on Upsetter was a single entitled "People Funny Boy," which was a direct attack upon Gibbs. What is important about the record is that, along with selling extremely well in Jamaica, it was the first Jamaican pop record to use the loping, lazy, bass-driven beat that would soon become identified as the reggae "riddim" and signal the shift from the hyperkinetically upbeat ska to the pulsing, throbbing languor of "roots" reggae. From this point through the 1970s, Perry released an astonishing amount of work under his name and numerous, extremely creative pseudonyms: Jah Lion, Pipecock Jakxon, Super Ape, the Upsetter, and his most famous nom de plume, Scratch. Many of the singles released during this period were significant Jamaican (and U.K.) hits, instrumental tracks like "The Return of Django," "Clint Eastwood," and "The Vampire," which cemented Perry's growing reputation as a major force in reggae music. Becoming more and more outrageous in his pronouncements and personal appearance (when it comes to clothing, only Sun Ra can hold a candle to Perry's thrift-store outfits), Perry and his remarkable house band, also named the Upsetters, worked with just about every performer in Jamaica. It was in the early '70s after hearing some of King Tubby's early dub experiments that Perry also became interested in this form of aural manipulation. He quickly released a mind-boggling number of dub releases and eventually, in a fit of creative independence, opened his own studio, Black Ark. It was at Black Ark that Perry recorded and produced some of the early, seminal Bob Marley tracks. Using the Upsetters rhythm section of bassist Aston "Familyman" Barrett and his drummer brother Carlton Barrett, Perry guided the Wailers through some of their finest moments, recording such powerful songs as "Duppy Conqueror" and "Small Axe." The good times, however, were not long, especially after Perry, unbeknownst to Marley and company, sold the tapes to Trojan Records and pocketed the cash. Island Records head Chris Blackwell quickly moved in and signed the Wailers to an exclusive contract, leaving Perry with virtually nothing. Perry accused Blackwell (a white Englishman) of cultural imperialism and Marley of being an accomplice. For years, Perry referred to Blackwell as a vampire, and accused Marley of having curried favor with politicians in order to make a fast buck. These setbacks did not stem the tide of Perry releases, be they of new material or one of a seemingly endless collection of anthologies. Perry was also expanding his range of influence, working with the Clash, who were huge Perry fans, having covered the Perry-produced version of Junior Murvin's classic "Police and Thieves." Perry was brought in to produce some tracks for the Clash, but the results were remixed more to the band's liking. All this hard work was wreaking havoc with Perry's already fragile mental state, leading to a breakdown. The stories of his mental instability were exacerbated by tales of massive substance abuse (despite his public stance against all drugs except sacramental ganja), which reportedly included regular ingestion of cocaine and LSD; one potentially apocryphal story even had Perry drinking bottles of tape head-cleaning fluid. But these stories, as with much surrounding Perry, blur fact and fiction. One story that was true was that Black Ark, and everything in it, burned to the ground. Perry claims bad wiring as the culprit, but the more familiar and commonly accepted story is that Perry burned the studio down in a fit of acid-inspired madness, convinced that Satan had made Black Ark his home. Whatever the case, the site of Perry's greatest moments as a producer had been reduced to (and remained) a pile of rubble and ash. Soon after the fire that consumed Black Ark, Perry, increasingly fed up with the music business in Jamaica (which by all accounts is corruption personified), decided to leave Jamaica. Despite the considerable lows in his career, Perry remained busy and, so it seemed, reasonably happy. Although he was less in demand as a producer, his solo work remained very strong, and his continuing influence could be felt in the contemporary dub music of the Mad Professor (another former Perry protégé that Perry went on to treat with disdain) and some post-rave electronica music. Even the Beastie Boys gave Perry his props in a rhyme on their release Ill Communication and later added him to the bill of performers at a concert for Tibetan freedom. In 1997, Island (the label started by the vampire Chris Blackwell) released Arkology, a well-received three-disc compilation of Perry recordings. That same year a collaboration with Dieter Meier of the Swiss electronica duo Yello called Technomajikal arrived on the Roir label. The project was made geographically possible by Scratch's move to Switzerland. A reunion with Trojan label happened in 2002, when the new album Jamaican E.T. was released by the label. Two years later Panic in Babylon was recorded with the European outfit White Belly Rats, while his legendary Super Ape album would receive a limited-edition reissue on the Hip-O Select label. The 1973 release Upsetters 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle - sometimes referred to as Blackboard Jungle Dub - saw its definitive reissue appear in 2004 when Perry biographer David Katz helmed its release for the Auralux imprint. Also that year, a different mix of the album landed on Sanctuary's two-CD collection Dub-Triptych. The label was also responsible for 2005's I Am the Upsetter, a well-chosen and well-annotated four-CD set. In 2006 George Clinton, DJ Spooky, and TV on the Radio would all contribute remixes when the U.S. label Narnack reissued Panic in Babylon with different artwork and a bonus disc. The 2007 set Ape-ology fit three classic albums - Super Ape, Return of the Super Ape, and Roast Fish, Collie Weed, and Cornbread - on two CDs. In 2008 he collaborated with Andrew W.K. for a the album Repentance and Adrian Sherwood for The Mighty Upsetter. A dub version of the latter, Dub Setter, followed in 2010. A word or two about Perry's discography: it's massive, unwieldy, and although there are plenty of great records, there's almost as much crap. The lack of quality control has little to do with Perry, but rather with sleazebags trying to rip off his legacy. After King Tubby's murder in 1989, his studio was looted, and many of Perry's tapes were stolen. Some of these recordings have shown up on poorly mastered, and expensive, anthologies. Releases on Trojan, Rounder's reggae subsidiary label Heartbeat, and Island (and its subsidiary label Mango) are generally excellent and are the best place to start building your Perry collection. Smaller labels like Seven Leaves and the French Lagoon Records (which seems like a semi-legit bootleg label) are hit-and-miss propositions, and those inclined to check out recordings on these labels are encouraged to proceed with caution. And avoid releases on the Rohit label, if only for their lousy production and tacky, grade-Z packaging. Also, as with King Tubby recordings, purchasing a Perry release means you might be buying a record he produced, but not necessarily performed on. That said, happy hunting and listening." Quoted from: Although my collection of Lee Perry’s work is limited I have enough to easily fill the next two hours and give you a little taste of some of my favourites and please excuse any omissions. For more insight into Lee Perry's life I highly recommend the documentary “The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry”! Link: Thanks for joining on and hope you enjoy the ride! Extra curriculars: Join me Thursdays & Saturdays 20h EST on my twitch channel barring any real life events for live mix sets from the basement. (follow/ subscribe)
Come Da-Da
Chubby & Scratch - Single - Upsetter
World Crisis
Danny Red - Lee Perry & Friends – Back To The Ark v/a Album - Upsetter
Bush Weed Corn Trash
Ricky and Bunny - Scratch and Company Chapter 1 Album - Clocktower Records
Sufferers Time
The Heptones - Single - Upsetter
Big Banana
Lee Perry - Lee Perry & Friends – Back To The Ark v/a Album - Upsetter
Can't Sit Down
The Ska-Talites - Ska Authentic Album - Studio One
The Ganja Man
Lee Perry - History, Mystery & Prophecy Album - Island Records
The Wrong Thing
The Congos - Heart of the Congos Album - Black Art
Who You Gonna Run To
Johnny Lover & The Towerchanters - Scratch and Company Chapter 1 Album - Clocktower Records
Punky Reggae Party
Bob Marley - Single - Tuff Gong
Junior Byles - Single - Wizz-Dom
Three Blind Mice
Upsetters - Single - Upsetter
Scratch Walking
The Upsetters - Scratch and Company Chapter 1 Album - Clocktower Records
Place Call Africa
Junior Byles - Single - Upsetter
War in a Babylon
Max Romeo - Single - Upsetter
Sound Doctor
Bobby Floyd - Single - Perries Records
end of first broadcast hour
Crime Wave
King Tubby meets The Upsetter - At the Grass Roots of Dub Album - Studio 16
Chase the Devil
Max Romeo - Reggae Mastercuts v/a Album - BBE
Danny and Lee - Trojan: The Early Upsetter v/a Album - Trojan
Lost Chance
The Webber Sisters - I & I Love You Honey Album - Sky Note
Mr. Music
Bob Marley - Single - Upsetter
Baby Baby
Val Bennet - Trojan: The Early Upsetter v/a Album - Trojan
Lee Perry - Trojan: The Early Upsetter v/a Album - Trojan
Cut Down On Your Speed
Ethiopians - Single - Upsetter
The Devil…Dead
Lee "Scratch" Perry & Dub Syndicate - Time Boom X De Devil Dead Album - On-U Sound
Clint Eastwood
Lee Perry - Single - Upsetter
Evol Yenoh
Bert Walters - Trojan: The Early Upsetter v/a Album - Trojan
Clint Eastwood
Lee Perry - Single - Upsetter
Honey Love
Bert Walters - Trojan: The Early Upsetter v/a Album - Trojan
Music + Science
Lee “scratch” Perry & Dub Syndicate - Time Boom X De Devil Dead Album - On-U Sound
Jungle Lion
Lee Perry & The Upsetters - Single - Upsetter
What a Confusion
Dave Barker - Single - Upsetter
Axe Man
The Upsetter - Single - Upsetter
The Congos - Heart of the Congos Album - Black Art
The Upsetters - Eastwood Rides Again Album - Trojan
Interactive CKCU
Trevor Walker (host)
TGIF Drive! Thanks for hopping on and hope you enjoy the ride. Happy listening!

10:30 AM, September 3rd, 2021
luv'in it! Havin' a Party... Scratch is the Musique!Thanks to him & you! One Cool looking & God Givin' Talented Dude!;-) True! Happy Labour Day! Music Workers are the BEST,!!!;-)

5:16 PM, September 3rd, 2021
Trevor Walker (host)
Hey hillbilly I'm partying with you! Have a great long weekend.

5:25 PM, September 3rd, 2021
Jas Nasty
Yes Trevor loving it!

6:05 PM, September 3rd, 2021
robert p in gatineau
Pleasant time spent with Scratch productions. Thanks.

6:22 PM, September 3rd, 2021
Jas Nasty
Thanks for the shoutout! Chris' show from Monday on Lee Scratch Perry - Mine on Heavy Friends coming up tomorrow Sat 8pm -

6:37 PM, September 3rd, 2021
Trevor Walker (host)
Awesome Jas! Thanks for tuning in! Looking forward to Heavy Friends! Sorry I forgot to post the links....

6:42 PM, September 3rd, 2021
Trevor Walker (host)
Hi robert p, always great to know you're on board! Thank you for all the support. Cheers

6:44 PM, September 3rd, 2021
Ras Royce
🔥🌽💣🇯🇲 Bush Weed Corn Trash 🇯🇲💣🌽🔥 🔥🔥🍁💣🇯🇲 Sufferer's Time 🇯🇲💣🍁🔥🔥 🏃🏿🍁💣🇯🇲 Who You Gonna Run To 🇯🇲💣🍁🏃🏿 🔵🔔🔵🔔🔵🔔 Come Along 🔔🔵🔔🔵🔔🔵 🍯😆🍯🐝🍯❤️ Evol Yenoh ❤️🍯🐝🍯😆🍯 ❤️🍯🐝🍯😆🍯Honey Love 🍯😆🍯🐝🍯❤️ I've always found such sanctuary in Perry's Black Ark, away from the mainstream so full of TOO MUCH IZM & SKIZM You dropped some of my absolute faves, but also brought new revelations with those single mixes of 🌈🌈☀️🇯🇲🌈🌈 Mr. Music 🌈🌈🇯🇲☀️🌈🌈 and 🔆☀️🇯🇲🎺🍍 Punky Reggae Party 🍍🎺🇯🇲☀️🔆 Lordamerc, that soars beyond the "Babylon By Bus" version with Bob's rappin' & skattin'... 👊🏾Much obliged for this Righteous Dedication👊🏾

7:23 AM, September 6th, 2021
Trevor Walker (host)
Ras Royce, Truly humbled by your kind words. I was feeling less than equipped to do a proper tribute, thank you for your vote of confidence. ☝🏾❤️

12:01 PM, September 7th, 2021