Chicken Scratch

Lee "Scratch" Perry

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Chicken Scratch Review

by John Dougan

Of all the reissues from Lee Perry's early career, this is the most illuminating, because it captures the youthful Perry (in his early 20s) singing ska music. Backed by the phenomenal Skatalites, featuring trombonist Don Drummond, saxophonists Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso, and keyboardist Jackie Mittoo, Perry belts out such Studio One ska/pop classics as "Please Don't Go," "Man to Man" (featuring backing vocals by the very youthful trio of Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh), and "Solid as a Rock." The songs skitter along, filled to the brim with exuberance, and the Skatalites (as usual) are a joy to hear, banging out double-time rhythms with reckless abandon. Adding to the fun are female backing vocalists the Soulettes and the Dynamites, the former featuring Bob Marley's wife Rita. This is rarely heard Perry music and, considering how far from this music he is today, it's almost hard to imagine him recording it. If you are building a Lee Perry library, absolutely, positively make this one of your purchases.

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