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GREETINGS MUSIC LOVER

About the new Eternal Thunder

Welcome to the new Eternal Thunder. It's been a long time coming, but finally the latest and greatest version of this website has arrived.

A lot has changed since Eternal Thunder first went online in 1996. First of all, the internet has exploded with dozens of useful websites on Lee Perry and reggae in general. While Eternal Thunder was the first website dedicated to Lee Perry, friendly competition from Smokey Room, blackark.com, and others has meant that Eternal Thunder has had some catching up to do.

The second big change is the publication of David Katz's excellent biography of Lee Perry in 1999, People Funny Boy. The astonishing depth of information contained in its pages shed a lot of light on Scratch's life and career, and made much of what has been written on this website either obsolete or in need of serious editing. It might sound vain when I point this out, but for many years Eternal Thunder was the only widely accessible source of information on Lee Perry and his music. People Funny Boy has changed that, and I'm glad. I did the best I could with bits and pieces of information trickling down to me through the internet, but David spent years of research and conducted hundreds of interviews in order to properly chronicle the life of Scratch.

A lot has changed since Eternal Thunder first went online in 1996.

Another big change is the plethora of Lee Perry compilations which have been released since this website first went online. When I first discovered Scratch's music in the early 1990s, pretty much all there was on the shelves were older Trojan collections which had been quickly (and sometimes poorly) re-released in CD format. Within a few years, Blood & Fire had re-released the sublime Heart Of The Congos set, Pressure Sounds gave us the excellent Voodooism , and then Steve Barrow and David Katz curated the outstanding Arkology box set for Island. Since then, Pressure Sounds and Heartbeat have given us a series of solid Lee Perry collections and a re-energized Trojan has also released a ton of compilations, most notably the excellent I Am The Upsetter box set, curated by Jeremy Collingwood. Scratch has also recorded a lot of new music in the past 10 years and even won a Grammy for the Jamaican ET album. In short, there has never been a better time to be a Lee Perry fan, with so much excellent material easily available.

Alongside this flood of re-releases, Lee Perry himself moved from cult reggae figure into the realm of pop culture icon during this time, if only briefly. After the release of Arkology, Scratch's profile was raised through many interviews in the music press, ranging from insightful to weird, depending on the knowledge of the interviewer. In 1998, Don Letts directed the wonderful Return Of The Super Ape documentary for Britain's Channel 4, further raising Scratch's public profile. The Upsetter even appeared in an amusing series of Guinness beer commercials in the late 1990s. If Eternal Thunder contributed in its own small way to this re-discovering of Scratch's music and legacy (and I think it did), then I'm proud of that.

The final change in the past 10 years is the emergence of E-Bay as well as the proliferation of digital recording. It is now quite simple to track down rare records through E-Bay, even if the prices can be excessive. Quite often, people have a much cheaper option: trading for rare material on CDRs. Many reggae collectors have the ability to make digital recordings of rare vinyl and transfer them to CDR. Thus, records and albums that were once akin to the idols and medallions that Indiana Jones went on daring expeditions to track down are now usually accessible after some friendly e-mails and the price of a few stamps. And I speak from personal experience: I'm currently sitting on more than 100 CDRs of rare Lee Perry material that I acquired through trades and generous offers which would have been near impossible for me to find using "analog" methods.

Eventually, this labour of love turned into more labour than love.

Getting back to the website... For the first few years of Eternal Thunder, I faithfully made regular updates every month or so. It was a labour of love and I was happy to do it. Every couple of years I re-designed the website and made additions and improvements. Then, after awhile, other website projects for fun and profit landed on my desk and quite often Eternal Thunder had to take a back seat. Eventually, this labour of love turned into more labour than love: I simply no longer had the time or the inspiration to make regular updates. You could say that I became disillusioned with the website. Scratch's amazing music, which at one point made up the bulk of my reggae collection, faded away a little as I discovered other producers and artists. Casting a critical eye on the website in 2002, I saw a lot of things that needed to be either tossed away or drastically changed. Before long, Eternal Thunder seemed like an obligation, rather than a passion. No updates were made for the better part of two years.

In December of 2004, I decided to take everything offline except for the disography and the news section. As I wrote at that time, I felt that I had a reputation to protect, and I would rather "close the doors" to the website temporarily instead of letting people in when the roof was leaking and the carpets were dirty.

Fast forward to December 2005. For whatever reason, a spark went off inside my head and I knew it was the right time to overhaul the website. Scratch's 70th birthday was on the way in March 2006, and suddenly I knew that I had to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Unfortunately, I didn't get the website online in time for Scratch's birthday due to the incredible amount of work involved. Not only was the website being expanded to ten times its original size, but trying to make sure that everything was up to the latest HTML and CSS standards was time consuming and tedious. It's a well known Rastafarian credo that nothing happens before its time; I guess this is the time.

Pretty much every inch of the website has been revisited and reconsidered.

Pretty much every inch of the website has been revisited, reconsidered and redesigned. The photos section is gone; I figure that if people want pictures of Scratch they can do a Google search. The biography, which is really redundant due to David Katz's book, has been kept online as kind of a museum piece. While I realize that a breezy writing style is no substitute for serious journalism, I make no apologies for using a liberal amount of artistic licence in telling Scratch's story. Think of it as the comic book version of the Lee Perry story — if you want the novel, buy a copy of People Funny Boy. The Words section has grown considerably due to the inclusion of several articles from the 1970s. While I don't consider all of the interviews in that section to be brilliant, many of them simply capture a mood which I think is important to the "home made" nature of this website.

The discography is the section that has received the most attention. When I first created it in 1996, about all of the information I had was what was currently available on CD at the music store I worked at. I was not yet in touch with seasoned collectors and reggaeologists like Steve Barrow, Doug Wendt, Roger Steffens, and the intrepid Ron Wittenkoek. I created the discography with the idea that I wanted to let people know what was currently available and easy to obtain. At the time, I saw no reason to list a bunch of rare records that were impossible to find. While I still feel that way to a certain extent, common sense dictates that now that this information is easier to find, I needed to greatly expand the discography. While I have neither the time nor inclination to create a discography which lists every single tune that Lee Perry was involved with, the new discography is now more extensive than ever before. Part of the process was to re-listen and revisit almost every Scratch album in my collection. Sometimes my opinions of albums didn't differ, other times I was pleasantly surprised to change my mind about several of them. Along the way, I gained a new appreciation for a lot of Scratch's music.

The news section of the website is now a magazine rather than a newsletter, something that has been in the works for a long time. Originally called Station Underground Reporting, the magazine component of Eternal Thunder is now named Upsetter Station. I am very pleased to feature some excellent work from other writers such as David Katz, Professor Barnabas, and Peter I.

The newest and most exciting addition to Eternal Thunder is Radio Scratch. This will be a monthly podcast which concentrates on a certain era of Scratch's career. With more than 40 years of music to explore, Radio Scratch will swing for extra days. Watch for special guest selecters and DJs contributing to Radio Scratch in the future.

So that's about it. Enjoy the new Eternal Thunder.

Mick Sleeper

September 2006