Lee “Scratch” Perry ‘Rainford’ LP/CD (On-U Sound) 5/5

‘Rainford’ is perhaps the most personal LP ever made featuring Lee Perry. Producer Adrian Sherwood likens it to an ageing Johnny Cash post-Rick Rubin. Personally, while this LP has some outstanding tracks I can’t see it that way because Sherwood is comparing chalk and cheese. Perry, ever the hustler, the sound man who became a producer and made the legendary Black Ark Studio in Jamaica has little to do with Johnny Cash, the legendary US singer-songwriter. The intent, from a marketing point of view, is digestible, but it does feel a little bit staged, and I guess most reviewers are jumping on the comparison, but as much as I admire both artists, they are radically different. Perry, now in his golden 83rd year is not just an eccentric old dubster who many argue propelled The Wailers to another level, his essence is that sound of the Black Ark. The bass, which no one else can match. The off the wall sounds, like cows mooing in the mix. There was something supersonic to those frequencies which took Dub music to another dimension in the 1970s. It was a revolution which would happen again in the 80s with a young engineer called The Scientist who took Dub to different galaxies. So, when approaching all things Perry, I find it hard to shake off so many sounds, memories and images, including hailing him up one day in Harlesden in the late 1980s. With all that in mind ‘Rainford’ is a marriage made in Dub heaven. Sherwood and Perry go back a long way so them teaming up again is a significant cultural osmosis, from start to finish.

Step in with ‘Cricket On The Moon’, a durge like dub track showcasing Perry’s outerplanetary intentions. Crickets, along with tree frogs, hummingbirds and lizards are part of the characteristic Jamaican acoustic. The thought of them reaching the moon shows just how far Jamaica and Dub reach. ‘Makumba Rock’ was recorded in Brazil and is a crazy combination of sounds and chantings from Perry. It builds as a freestyle with the drum and bass staying steady, and everything else just happening, unfolding into a series of acoustic surprises. Perry and Sherwood save the best til last. ‘Autobiography’ has Lee Perry telling his life in his own words as ‘prophecy’. “I was born as Rainford Hugh Perry, little boy blue”. In this he weaves his past as mini-dramas, from his father being a Freemason, to “can you help me Mr Perry” from Bob Marley, ‘Curly Locks’, ‘Blackboard Jungle’ and so much more. The prophecy is fleshed out with a catchy chorus “I am the Upsetter” and you are just singing “Murderer” along with the melody. This tune could well become one of the best of the year in the dub realm. May Rainford reign and dub for decades more to come. I give this A 5 Star intergalactic outernational rating…

Haji Mike