Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: Rainford review – ghost of dub past

(On-U Sound)

“Bob Marley come to me, say ‘my cup is overflow and I don’t know what to do, can you help me, Mr Perry?’ Yes I can...” This vignette from Lee (real name Rainford) “Scratch” Perry’s new album tells us much about the Bob Dylan of dub. It tells of the Jamaican’s kingmaker role as reggae went global, his love of mythopoeia, his endless eagerness to work.

Perry is 83 now, yet he endures, even after another of his studios burned down in 2015. It’s just unclear what he brings to the studio beyond a withered, querulous croak. The seductive truculence of albums such as 1976’s Super Ape is gone. Dub veteran Adrian Sherwood’s solicitous production does a job, but rarely pushes Perry into truly interesting places. There’s some of The Upsetter’s fever dreams in African Starship, and Kill Them Dreams Money Worshippers has a fiery strut, but sometimes Rainford sounds like a posthumous tribute, with Perry a wraithlike absence haunting the spaces of his exhumed past.

Watch the video for Let It Rain.


Damien Morris

The GuardianTramp

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