UPSETTING AND UNRELEASED
Every few years, I make the trip down to Montana for some hiking and to visit with my friend Doug "The Midnight Dread" Wendt to reason and to plunder his huge collection for more rare Scratch material. It occurred to me that even with the plethora of Lee Perry collections that have been released in the past several years, there is still a ton of crucial material that needs to be rescued from vinyl oblivion and re-released on CD. Let's hope that Blood & Fire, Pressure Sounds, Motion or Heartbeat will give us more of the goods in the future.
Here is my personal list of Upsetter productions that need to see the light of day again on a nicely re-mastered CD collection:
Darkness On The City - Judge Winchester (Black Art 7" B-side)
The B-side to the fantastic "Public Jestering", this is a devastating tune that has a much more subdued Winchester ruminating about the violence and frustration simmering in Jamaica. Just as hard hitting as anything on Junior Murvin's Police And Thieves.
Sipple Out Deh - Max Romeo (Upsetter 7")
The original mix of Max's famous "War Ina Babylon". Island decided to water down Scratch's powerful original mix when the War Ina Babylon album was released. Not a million miles away from the Island version, but still startlingly different. Now that Island has re-released Police And Thieves with bonus tracks, maybe this will make it onto a re-released War Ina Babylon.
Yagga Yagga - Lee & Jimmy (Upsetter 7" B-side)
When Pressure Sounds released Voodooism, I was thrilled to see this tune on the track listing. However, for some weird reason that Pressure Sounds has never commented on, the track is not "Yagga Yagga" but a dub version of "Many A Call" by the Unforgettables. "Yagga Yagga" is an early Black Ark scorcher that turns a nursery rhyme on it's head with raucous vocals and a tight arrangement.
Cheating - Earl Sixteen (Upsetter 7")
One of the most beautiful tracks ever laid down at the Black Ark, it's astonishing that this (and it's wonderful dub version) wasn't included on any of Pressure Sounds' excellent Black Ark collections.
Maccabee The Third - Winston Cool (Dr. Alimantado) (Upsetter 7" B-side)
The B-side to "History Of Africa" features a young Dr. Alimantado (as Winston Cool) crying out "fire for King James version! Rastafari version now!" on this pre-roots era killer. [This tune is now available on the Greensleeves collection House Of Singles]
Old For New - Lee Perry (R&B 7" single)
A young Lee Perry made his musical debut with this ska stomper in 1963. He had recorded some earlier tunes that Studio One boss Coxsone Dodd used as sound system dubplates, but "Old For New" was the first to be released. Other great ska numbers by young Scratch include "Run Rudies Run", "Help The Weak", and "Wishes Of The Wicked". You would think that Heartbeat would include at least one of these in one of their future Studio One ska collections...
Disco Devil - Lee Perry, Max Romeo, and Full Experience (Black Art 12")
An extended work out of "Chase The Devil" with Scratch adding echoed, metallic percussion and wild screams. The surreal lyrics deal with "disco rebels", the pope, and cocaine, with snippets of Max's original "Chase The Devil" vocals. This killer is also available on the out of print Anachron LP Turn And Fire (see below, featuring a slightly different mix. [Since the time of writing, Trojan has re-released "Disco Devil" on a nice 12" single.]
Dreadlocks In Moonlight (12" mix) - Lee Perry (Island 12")
This terrific extended version of one of Scratch's finest moments could be the lead track on a new Island collection of Black Ark disco mixes, or as part of Arkology Part 2...
Living My Life - Keith Texon (Keith Rowe) (Black Ark 12")
A laidback, soulful number from the man who gave us "Groovy Situation"; why didn't Rowe record more solo tracks? The dub version, "Living In Dub" (available on Megaton Dub Two) is a dub masterpiece that turns the rhythm upside down. Both should be given the CD treatment tout suite. [This song was included on the 2003 Justice League CD version of Return Of Wax. Although now out of print, it's not impossible to find.]
Aura Meets Lee "Scratch" Perry At Black Ark Studio - Full Experience (Blue Moon EP)
Released in limited numbers in 1990, this platter has become a serious collector's item. Five tracks featuring Full Experience, Scratch's backing vocalists at the Black Ark. Pressure Sounds - what are you waiting for?
Turn And Fire (Anachron LP)
Turn And Fire is an amazing collection of Black Ark discomixes, including "Why Must I", "I Shall Be Released", "Mr. President" and "Crying Over You" by The Heptones, "Norman" and "Sexy Natty" by Max Romeo, and an alternate mix of "Disco Devil" by Lee Perry and Full Experience.
Reggae In America - Lion Zion (House Of Natty LP)
Lion Zion was an American reggae singer who travelled to Jamaica to record an album's worth of material with Scratch at the Black Ark (Lion produced the album, Scratch mixed it). Since it's release in 1976, this excellent album has remained a collector's item; surely someone in the US must have the rights to these tracks and can oversee a CD re-release. While not as crucial as other Black Ark productions, Reggae In America stands out as something unique in the Lee Perry catalogue. And given the current political climate in America, tunes like "Arise America" and "Gas Guzzler" sound just as relevant now as they did 30 years ago.
Working On The Guideline - George Faith (unreleased LP)
After the wonderful To Be A Lover album, Faith cut an album's worth of original material at the Black Ark in 1978. All that has surfaced from these sessions are "Guideline" and its dub version and "Don't Be Afraid" — based on the strength of these songs, the rest of the album could be absolute dynamite. The fate of the rest of the material is unknown; if the master tapes still exist, then the album simply begs to be released.
Untitled Album - Junior Murvin (unreleased LP)
After the monumental Police And Thieves album, Murvin cut an album's worth of material with Scratch in 1978. To date, almost none of it has been released, save for some tracks included on the Heartbeat collection Cutting Razor and some long gone 12" singles. As with the George Faith LP, this material begs to be released. [Some of the unreleased Junior Murvin tracks were included on the Heartbeat collection Cutting Razor, including "Let's Fall In Love" and "Mister Craven".]
December 2001 (with additional material October 2008)