ALBUM: LEE PERRY - RISE AGAIN
Revisiting some of the finest moments of his career, Lee Perry proves to be one of the last men standing from a heritage of great reggae artists.
Celebrating his 75th birthday last March, the influential and eccentric record producer Lee “Scratch” Perry maintains a fairly steady output. After last year’s “Revelation,” this anniversary year sees the official DVD release of the biopic “The Upsetter: The Life & Music of Lee “Scratch” Perry, narrated by Benicio del Torres and a new album “Rise Again”, produced by Bill Laswell.
Although both producers have built an impressive resume producing in the realms of dub, surprisingly enough this album marks their first collaboration. According to Laswell “a lot of it is just about contact,” in this case the link being “Matisyahu” bassist (and member of Perry’s band) Josh Werner. Other musicians involved are members of Laswell’s band “Method of Defiance,” most notably P-Funk legendary keyboardist Bennie Worrell, TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe and Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu “Gigi” Shibaba.
Whether intentional or not, “Rise Again” revisits some of the finest moments in Perry’s recording career, most notably “Heart of the Congos” (1978). The album kicks of in fine style with “Higher Level.” Although recorded digitally, Worrells simmering organs and Adebimbe’s soulful backing vocals reconstruct 70’s vintage reggae sound wonderfully. The same must be said of Peter Apfelbaum (tenor sax) and Steven Bernstein (trumpet) whose sound is just plain skanking!
Next up is “Scratch Message,” where Perry lyrically revisits Congos’ song “Can’t Come In.” Perry’s vocals still retain their mystical stream of conscious quality, which is best enjoyed when the listener gives up trying to understand and just submerges himself in the flow. Further songs returning to earlier themes are E.T. which takes a cue from the 2002 Grammy Award winning album “Jamaican E.T.” and “Dancehall Kung Fu” referring to Perry’s fascination with Kung Fu movies.
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