Lee "Scratch" Perry


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Since the late '80s, Jamaican dub innovator Lee "Scratch" Perry has sporadically collaborated with British producer Adrian Sherwood, whose truly jarring, rule-breaking sound is a clear descendent of Perry's. Rainford (Perry's legal birth name) follows sometimes underacknowledged albums such as From the Secret Laboratory, in addition to Perry's guest appearances on records by Dub Syndicate and Sherwood's collaborations with dubstep pioneer Pinch. Both artists are in fine form on Rainford, with Perry delivering his inimitable brand of playful, free-associative verse and Sherwood twisting trippy rhythms around him. The crushed funk dub of "Cricket on the Moon" serves as a bed for Perry's manic growls and alien observations. More dramatic and lushly orchestrated is the stepping dancehall blues of "Let It Rain," where Perry wishes to "wipe out Babylon and drown Satan" over stirring cellos and swirling, choppy beats. While it seems like it could all get heavy and dramatic, Perry extols the value of love, healthy living, and having a good time. Perry gets more emotionally intense as the album progresses, imitating virtually an entire zoo during the Brazilian-flavored "Makumba Rock," during which he mockingly cries and wishes for his parents. The stunning "African Starship" is filled with trudging, nearly trip-hop rhythms and rusty trumpets, providing a disorienting accompaniment to Perry's interstellar prophecies. "Kill Them Dreams Money Worshippers" continues in the line of Perry's previous anti-capitalist rants, punctuated with blood-curdling screams and violent, thundering echo. The album concludes with "Autobiography of the Upsetter," a moving recollection of Perry's own life, spiked with references to the legend's past achievements. Stating his purpose to eliminate evil and destroy racism, he recounts his early days in the music business, working with Sir Coxsone Dodd, and producing timeless records with Bob Marley, Susan Cadogan, and Max Romeo. He also dips into his own lore, referencing the time he witnessed Island Records founder Chris Blackwell drinking chicken blood, and the burning of his own Black Ark studio. Perry assures that despite his reputation as an outrageous eccentric, he isn't crazy, a fact which should be plainly obvious to anyone who's been following his work; he plays up his outlandish character, but he's always maintained control over his art. The best moments of Rainford prove that Perry's creative flame is still burning bright, more than five decades after he first began making music.

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