Barry Snaith On The A2K. Remembering The Upsetter

Barry Snaith originally hails from Yorkshire, these days he calls Derbyshire home, yet that distinctive brogue remains potently identifiable. A conversation with Barry means he is likely to sound astonished, perplexed, or downright indigent at any given moment because of his heritage’s fondness for a purposefully dry sense of humor. Barry has a new project, not unusual for him, after all, his other ongoing projects are The Inconsistent Jukebox and m1nk, plus the sound design work he gets involved with. The A2K is Barry Snaith’s latest venture. He was contacted by one, Martin Lucas who put Barry in touch with Carl Malamud, also known as the Open Access Ninja. As a result, Barry was asked to get involved by conjuring up music for an upcoming documentary. Instead of going into detail here, we ask that you listen to this edition of Life Elsewhere with Barry Snaith in conversation with Norman B on The A2K project.

Open Access Ninja: The Brew Of Law

As the last edition of Life Elsewhere was going out, news came in of the death of reggae legend Lee Scratch Perry. It is almost impossible to recount how important Lee Perry was not only in reggae music but all of popular music. There is so much to relate about Mr. Perry. Quite simply, the man-made over many years, ground-breaking music, he was and will remain more influential than perhaps we can assess at this time. Rainford Hugh Perry was born on March 20th, 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica. He left school at 15 and got into the dance and music scene. He worked for entrepreneurial wheeler & dealer, Coxon Dodd. Their relationship was not a happy one so Perry found a new home with producer Joe Gibbs. Eventually, Lee Perry set up his own label, Upsetter Records. From 1968 until 1972, he worked with his studio band The Upsetters. During the 1970s, Perry released numerous recordings on a variety of record labels that he controlled, and many of his songs were popular in both Jamaica and the United Kingdom. He soon became known for his innovative production techniques as well as his eccentric behavior. In 1973 he built his own studio, Black Ark in his backyard. (Later it burned down in questionable circumstances). It was there he produced notable acts such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Byles, Junior Marvin, The Heptones, The Congos, Max Romeo, and many more. He also started the Black Art label, on which many of the productions from the studio appeared. His story is full of debatable accuracy from then on, but what is fact is Perry continued making exceptional music. In the 1980s,  he began working with British producers Adrian Sherwood and Neil Fraser (who is better known as Mad Professor). From then on his reputation grew and grew. Lee Perry’s influence on the music we hear today is massive. To select just one Lee Perry cut as a tribute has to be a meaningful choice, so I have selected one that impressed me when I first bought the 7” single in a bicycle shop that also sold Bluebeat and Ska records back in 1973. This was in a formidable part of southwest London dominated by a vast council estate, which my US listeners would recognize as the Projects. That single, Bathroom Skank, my well-worn platter has a faded label that announces it’s on the Upsetter imprint and produced by one Omar Perry. There have been a number of versions since then, the most recent being in 1999 on Perry’s Black Ark label. Possibly not Lee Perry’s finest work or most popular, but it certainly illustrates the magic, the essence of what Lee Perry did so well. Rest In Peace, Lee Perry.

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