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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

LEE PERRY

By Judson Kilpatrick
Published September 8, 2005

I Am The Upsetter: The Story Of The Lee “Scratch” Perry Golden Years
Trojan/Sanctuary

Even though they limited themselves to the decade from 1968-1978—covering Perry’s post-Studio One rise to international acclaim and ending with his legendary “breakdown” and the infamous burning of his Black Ark Studio—the compilers of this four-disc boxed set still had to sort through some 1,000 sides. The prolific producer helmed such seminal Bob Marley classics as “Small Axe” and “Duppy Conqueror,” helped create and advance the dub genre, and injected American soul into reggae with cuts like the Upsetters’ MFSB-influenced “Rebels Train” and Susan Carogan’s cover of Millie Jackson’s “Hurts So Good.” Ranging from defiant early solo shots such as “I Am The Upsetter” and “People Funny Boy” to Junior Byles’ haunting “A Place Called Africa” and gorgeous “Curley Locks,” this compilation covers much of Perry’s best work. But it leaves off such essentials as Junior Murvin’s “Police & Thieves,” Max Romeo’s “War Ina Babylon” and the ultimate stereo tester, “Roast Fish & Cornbread” (all of which are on Island’s three-disc Arkology). Aside from that, it’s an excellent overview of one of modern music’s most influential and eccentric artists.