Tag Archives: Lee Perry

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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Download Norman B’s Exclusive Thank You Mix

Picture 3A big week at Life Elsewhere headquarters! A record number of listeners to our Podcast via Stitcher and WMNF, plus massive amounts of hits at this site, from Mongolia to Kuwait and Chile to Finland. If that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, it was also Norman B’s birthday which generated non-stop email and snail-mail salutations. The cake, the balloons and festive paraphernalia are gradually being pushed to one side as we concentrate on the Memorial Day edition of Life Elsewhere. One birthday card looks like it will permanently take pride of place on Norman B’s desk. It’s a card from his son James (pictured left), with a sentiment we all agree with.

Impressed with all the generous birthday messages and the ever-growing numbers of subscribers and listeners to Life Elsewhere, Norman B set about saying “Thank You” by making an exclusive mix for you to download. “I decided to give something back to all the wonderful supporters of Life Elsewhere said Norman B, adding “I selected some my all-time favorite and collectable reggae tracks!” The playlist follows and the download link is at the bottom of the page.

Norman B’s Exclusive Thank You Mix                                  

The Twinkle Brothers – I Love You So

(Apologies for the surface noise, this track was taken directly from my well-worn copy). This track first appeared on a 10” ep on the Virgin Front Line imprint, apparently now a rare find. I bought my copy when it was released in 1978, before ever hearing it. The cover caught my attention as I perused the slim reggae bin at the original Virgin Records shop in London. I played that slight piece of vinyl again and again and almost wore it out. It moved me to such a degree I remember playing it repeatedly one night for my opinionated yet terribly smart friend (and sadly departed) Ken, who finally shouted at me, “Can you give that bloody thing a rest?!” And with that he promptly put on The Stranglers.

Osbourne Graham – Baby Don’t Go

B-side of “San San” an Upsetters’ 7” from 1974 produced by the original Upsetter, Lee Perry on the Count Shelly imprint. Very rare find if you are lucky track down this gem.

Johnny Clarke – Hold On

This track most likely can be found on various compilations like almost all of reggae tracks recorded in Jamaica throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The compilation lists go on and on and it has become almost impossible to keep up with who released what, when and where. I first discovered “Hold On” on the album Johnny Clarke Meets Cornell Campbell (In New Stylee). It’s a classic Bunny Lee production recorded at Joe Gibbs in 1983.

Jah Walton – Touch Her Where She Want It Most

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 3.26.22 PMNow here is a fine example of the conundrum of reggae…truth and rights vs. slackness…or…an overindulgence of a debatable religious idea vs. downright blatant sexual boasting. Mr. Walton aka Joseph Cotton manages to mix up both idioms in the short space of one album. The first track “Stay A Your Yard And Praise God” sets a seemingly righteous tone, which abruptly changes with the title track “Touch Her Where She Want It Most”. You certainly don’t have to decipher the lyrics to understand what Mr. Cotton is on about. And just to bolster his predilection, he follows with  “Tender Pum Pum”. But it’s the front cover artwork, if you happen to come across it, that may convince you of Jah Walton’s true religion. Recorded in 1981 at Channel One and produced by Phil Pratt.

General Echo – Answer The Telephone

Earl Anthony Robinson made no bones about where his interests lay, with album titles like “Slackest LP” and 12″ of Pleasure. I happen to own a cassette recording of him toasting with his own Echo Tone Hi Fi sound system where his graphic boasting was for the time truly original and shocking. This track recorded one year before his premature death in 1980 is from the album Rocking & Swing“.

Barry Brown – Girlfriend + Girlfriend In Dub

Curiously, Barry Brown apparently wants to borrow a girlfriend! A rousing disco-mix from the exceptional album “Showcase: Midnight Rock At Channel One” Produced by and featuring Jah ThomasScientist and Roots Radics provide the backing.

Susan Cadogan – Nice And Easy

From a 1976 album produced by Lee Perry, alternately titled Susan Cadogan and “Hurt So Good”. Unfortunately like many female reggae artists, Ms. Cadogan is best remembered for a just one hit. Her sweet breathy vocal style was well handled by the inimitable Mr. Perry on an album well worth searching for.

Derrick Lara & Trinity – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

True story: I used to play this track, many years ago on Wednesday nights at Tugs, the legendary club in Seattle. When I had the crowd at a fever pitch after a set that involved mixing B52’s into Soft Cell then into The Supremes I needed something to keep ‘em on the dance floor but also change the pace a little. This 12” disco-mix’s thundering bass-line coupled with the familiarity of the song had everyone in a sweaty throbbing mass on the dance floor. The only trouble was the first evening I was about to play the disc, a not so careful visitor to the dj booth managed to knock the platter to the floor. It was Jamaican pressing and therefore made out of the old thick breakable vinyl…a chunk about one inch across snapped off the edge…the disc was still playable but I had no choice but to cue it up, skipping the opening bars to begin where Mr. Lara says, “Yeah!” It was a huge success and requested again and again. I almost certainly played the record every week for over a year but dancers at Tugs never ever heard the beginning. Thankfully I managed to find a digital version so you can hear the whole wonderful effort intact. Enjoy.

Norman B’s Exclusive FREE Thank You Mix was available for a limited time. 

Don’t Miss the Memorial Day Edition of Life Elsewhere

Monday, 9.00am EDT, May 26

WMNF 88.5fm


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