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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

LEE “SCRATCH” PERRY AND THE WHITEBELLYRATS

By Judson Kilpatrick
Published September 22, 2005

Panic In Babylon
DAMP

After producing and/or appearing on over 150 albums, Lee “Scratch” Perry is still going strong, and is as eccentric as ever. Following in the footsteps of producer Adrian Sherwood and Dieter Meier (of Yello), the new dub combo White Belly Rats managed to lure the mighty Upsetter into the studio (and on tour across Europe), thus putting their name on the reggae map. (BTW: another grizzled veteran, trombonist Rico Rodriguez of Specials fame, contributes a subdued solo on the title track). A surprisingly talented crew, DJ Star*trek (bass), Lax Delux (guitar) and Senator Spahni (drums) contribute wicked backdrops to even Perry’s most banal lyrics. This is actually one of Perry’s best releases in many years, even as he revisits a couple of classics from his albums with Sherwood and Dub Syndicate: He updates his swinging “Inspector Gadget” and pushes his voice to the limit on a live version of “De Devil Dead.” WBR surrounds Perry’s meandering monologues with swirling space noises and effect-laden guitar licks, which along with the rock-solid rhythms make this a very enjoyable dub experience.