Metropolis Magazine
Issue #805 - Friday, Aug 28th, 2009
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798: Jack Penate
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598: Feist
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593: Little Barrie
591: Juliette Lewis
589: James Chance & The Contortions
588: Carnival: Vice Bongo 1st Anniversary Party
585: Stereophonics
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581: Caetano Veloso
579: Maximo Park
578: Moe
577: Death From Above 1979
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570: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
568: Prefuse 73
566: Pat Metheny
565: Rachel Yamagata
564: The Shins
563: The Music
561-562: Metropolis music survey 2004
559: Blues Explosion
557: The Libertines
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547: Tokyo Rotation
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545: The Roots
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509/10: Incognito
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505: Out on a limb
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501: Super Furry Animals
499: Geezer's groove
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470: Asian Dub Foundation
469: Badly Drawn Boy
468: Massive Attack
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464: Catching up with Sonic Youth
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457/8: On the phone: The Jeevas
456: K-Ci & JoJo and The Roots
455: Sleater-Kinney
454: Beast Feast
453: Contrasts in young UK rock
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443: Camp in Asagiri Jam
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441: On the phone: Moby
440: True People's Celebration
439: Roots Revival
438: The politics of sampling
437: Summer Sonic sampler
436: The Jazz Mandolin Project
435: Indie icons
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433: Get's Bossa Nova 2002
432: Janet Kay with Omar
431: Kottonmouth Kings
430: Bowes & Morley
429: Christina Milian
428: Elvis Costello
427: Space Kelly
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425: Jay-Z
424: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
423: The Brian Setzer Orchestra
422: Weezer
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420: Lenny Kravitz
419: Speech
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416: Chuck Berry & James Brown
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414: Britney Spears
413: Music Mary J. Blige
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410: David Byrne
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400: Mercury Rev
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398: The Isley Brothers
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392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
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386: Beast Feast 2001
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366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
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352/3: Limp Bizkit
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350: Reef
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348: Roni Size
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346: Incognito
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344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
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336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
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328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana

By Dan Grunebaum

Lee “Scratch” Perry
In a recent interview, the mad dub genius stays true to form

Courtesy of Beatink

Interviews with Lee “Scratch” Perry, one of the main creators of the spacier variant of Jamaican reggae known as dub, tend to follow a certain pattern. The reporter begins by genuflecting to the “Mighty Upsetter,” and then desperately attempts to elicit some usable quotes.

It’s not that the man is unapproachable. When I catch up with him at his Switzerland home ahead of a Japan tour, the 73-year-old is a model of kindness. “How is the crisis in Japan?” he asks with concern.
“Pretty bad,” I answer.

“But Japanese cars are popular the world over,” he responds. “Japan has a very nice, unique style—they don’t need to worry. The only worry is whether other people have the money to buy them!”
Can’t argue with that.

Does Perry ever get back to Jamaica? And if so, what does he think of the current music scene there?

“Every year I go back,” he says in a thick patois. “Lots of friends there—it’s still home. But I don’t work with Jamaican musicians now. Because what they’re thinking about now is dancehall, and I’m thinking about righteousness. It’s a different vibration.

“What I’m trying to do now is to make music that has no meat, no cigarette, no ganja,” he continues. “I made a lot of music with meat and cigarette and ganja and it go [succeeded], but when I look back on life, I think it was most about healing for the people. Because I think the fans should get some righteous energy in their home by playing some righteous sounds for the brain.”

While Perry isn’t exactly a household name, his productions constitute a large chunk of the best reggae from the ’70s, and his experimentation with dub “versions” in the studio has been imprinted on generations of electronica producers. What was the inspiration for his innovations behind the mixing board of his fabled Black Ark studio for bands like The Heptones and artists like Max Romeo?
“When we used to do sessions like those, every morning we wake at 5 o’clock, have a sea bath, then go straight to the studio. So the energy came from the sea and the sun,” begins Perry, in what turns out to be one of his classic “meditations.”

“I’m a Piscean, a fish, so I stick with my energy. I believe in water. Water is a blessing. And fire burns out evil, so mostly when I make music, I have meditations on fire and water. So the dub music I was making came from [the] energy of water and fire—those are my power.”

The powerful energy that flowed from this country boy and his Jamaican peers continues to inspire more than three decades on. Why is dub so influential?

“Because it’s the energy of God,” answers Perry, who despite the loss of his dreadlocks remains a committed Rastafarian. “I think like God when I’m making music, and those are the energies I put into the music. The music must not get old. It must be fresh and young forever. And if it’s fresh and young forever, then I will be fresh forever. So I make music so that I cannot die, because if the music is immortal then I also must become immortal.”

But at one time this potent energy got to be too much. In 1979, in an act that the producers of Island Records’ definitive Arkology set attribute to problems with drugs, alcohol and too many seedy hangers-on, Perry burned down the Ark.

“After the experiments I tried in Jamaica, which were overloaded with too much dread energy, the only way to survive was to burn the studio and cleanse it with fire, so… it was me who burn down the Ark.”

This apparently led Perry to get out from behind the mixing board and step onto the stage. “Then it was much easier for me because then I had much less jinx, and had a clearer mind to think and go into show business and expose myself,” he says.

These days, including a set at last year’s Fuji Rock, Perry tours with recent collaborator Adrian Sherwood, the noted English dub and electronica producer. Last year, the pair released a re-envisioning of some of Perry’s greatest tracks, The Mighty Upsetter, and have just issued a new set of dub versions of that album, Dubsetter.

Together, Perry and Sherwood represent the journey dub has traveled from its roots in the Jamaican underclass to its reincarnation as a soundtrack for late-night revels in urban nightclubs of the developed world, where we meet them next month in Tokyo.

Liquidroom, June 7. See concert listings (popular) for details.

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