Run evil spirit....
Released on 31st May 2019
Running time 42.30
83 year old legendary dub producer and self-styled “dub shepherd” Lee “Scratch” Perry returns with this remarkably innovative and inventive dub reggae offering. There is a wide variety of instrumentation used on the album and various sound effects as well as the obligatory deep, rumbling dub bass rhythms. It really is a slightly different dub album, full of interesting soundscapes. Perry is not quite as bonkers as his legend (and himself) would often have you believe. He is (and always was) in total control of his work. Don’t let his crazy approach fool you.
1. Cricket On The Moon
2. Run Evil Spirit
3. Let It Rain
4. House Of Angels
5. Makumba Rock
6. African Starship
7. Kill Them Dreams Money Worshippers
8. Children Of The Light
9. Autobiography Of The Upsetter
Cricket On The Moon is sort of staccato, funky dub with Perry growling his vocals gruffly, as you would expect, over an intoxicating, bassy beat. A fervent Perry tells us all to repent before an addictive wah-wah style guitar comes in. Despite its heavy bass thump, there is a sort of looseness here that is continued throughout the album.
Of all the many Dub artists, Perry has always had one of the keenest ear for a melody, and nowhere is this better exemplified than on the catchy rhythms of Run Evil Spirit, which is brought alight by some excellent saxophone, somewhat unusual for dub. Let It Rain finds the octogenarian Perry croaking over another really attractive beat, this time enhanced by some deep strings. Nobody can croak quite like Perry, apart from maybe Prince Far I. The track has a lively, dancehall “stepping” beat to it. Producer Adrian Sherwood assists Perry on all these tracks to give us a bit more than the traditional thumping dub sound popularised in the late seventies. This is dub for 2019 and very appealing it is too. The usual vows to “wipe out Babylon and drown Satan” mean that it hasn’t strayed too far from dub traditions, however.
House Of Angels uses an infectious brass backing, lots of backing vocals and a somewhat mournful vocal from Perry. He sounds old, but he sounds reassuringly wise, despite his madcap persona. It is a track absolutely overflowing with atmosphere. Makumba Rock is packed full of African-inspired rhythms and multiple animal noises (something Perry has also used in the past). It has echoes of Manu Dibango and those Cameroonian sounds that often emanate these days from the banlieues of Paris. Perry starts crying manically at a few points and the whole thing gets more than a little disconcerting. Perry for some reasons tells us that Prince Charles will be King of the United Kingdom - true, of course, but bizarrely irrelevant.
African Starship is a more traditional sounding dub with echoes of Prince Far I in the deep “chanting” style vocals. The scratchy sound is more seventies-influenced than anything else on the album. Kill Them Dreams Money Worshippers is an anti-capitalist rant, something Perry has always enjoyed delivering. It is enhanced by appealing echo and tuneful backing vocals as well as all sorts of sound effects and a lilting slow guitar skank. Children Of The Light is a brassy dub that once again uses the backing vocals strongly. Its guitar and drum interplay is superb. The old Augustus Pablo-inspired melodica is used on here too.
Autobiography Of The Upsetter is a most evocative narration by Perry of the events of his own life from his birth and upbringing in Jamaica to producing records. He references Bob Marley, Susan Cadogan and Max Romeo. He also tells us of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell drinking chicken's blood, perpetuating his own mythology. Incidentally, Rainford is Perry's birth name. If this is to be Perry's final album, what a fine way to bow out.
This is a highly recommended album if you like dub, but be prepared for some fascinating and slightly different sounds. It is dub in a modern day style.