Lee "Scratch" Perry / The Upsetters

Return of Django

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In 1969, following stints at Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One and a period as a freelance producer, Lee "Scratch" Perry struck out on his own as the Upsetter (a trinity of label, personal moniker, and backing band). The year saw Perry focusing on instrumental terrain with a group of veteran rock steady players that included (in its original incarnation), bassist Clifton "Jackie" Jackson, guitarist Lynford "Hux" Brown, pianist/arranger Gladstone "Gladdy" Anderson, and organist Winston "Brubek" Wright. Return of Django collects some of the group's early efforts. The title track earned Perry his first taste of international success, and it's easy to see why. The Upsetters lay down an infectious pulse, highlighting piping hot sax work. Its only draw back is that it seems entirely too short. Still, "Return of Django" is something of an anomaly on the collection. Instead of the horns, you find Wilson's simmering organ in the spotlight. It is very much his hour as other elements are pushed to the music's periphery. Spending hours at local movie houses was apparently a favorite pastime of Perry and the Upsetters. As a result, the band absorbed the music from popular spaghetti westerns and spy films. Wilson incorporates these styles, reducing them to playful lines that can be almost childlike in their simplicity. Oozing Jamaican cool, he shifts between sustained drones, choppy grooves, and bizarre flourishes that bubble at the top of the mix. Assembled quickly in the wake of "Return of Django"'s success, the tunes can sound like the sort of spontaneous jams that might have taken place in between proper recording. Even so, the album's whimsical, carefree vibe and undercurrent of rugged rhythms make it difficult to resist.

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