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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

LEE “SCRATCH” PERRY

By TOM TERRELL
Published May 30, 2006

Cutting Razor: Rare Cuts From The Black Ark
Heartbeat

Lee “Scratch” Perry. Born Rainford Hugh Perry in Kendal, Jamaica on March 20, 1936. Producer for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s fabled Studio One label, ’62-’66. Produced/co-wrote the first two great Wailers albums. Crowning achievement: the Black Ark studio recordings circa ‘73-’80. With only a Teac four-track deck, a tape splicer, copious amounts of spliff and a mad scientist’s work ethic to draw from, Perry created some of the greatest reggae albums of all time (War In A Babylon, Police And Thieves, Party Time). Black Ark’s “sound” was so uniquely idiosyncratic, idiomatic, iconoclastic and hermetic everyone under its influence had no choice but to sing/play the same ol’ funky song. Cutting Razor: Rare Cuts From The Black Ark supplies 17 different reasons why Scratch had it going on like that. Here, songs from obscure wannabes like the Bluebells (“Come Along”), Leo Graham (“Black Candle”) and Time Unlimited (“Staring,” “Judgment”) are as crucial as Max Romeo’s “One Step Forward” and the Heptones’ “Sufferer’s Time.” Junior Byles’ smooth rock steady “Cutting Razor” is as good as Peter Tosh’s original and Perry’s bubbly ’n’ bouncy put down “What A Sin” ranks with his all-time best. Hell, even Sharon Isaacs’ version of the dreaded “Feelings” grooves sweet on the Black Ark.