Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Classic dub, reggae from Lee Perry’s iconic studio reissued

Published:Saturday | June 27, 2020 | 12:21 AM
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Two albums from master reggae and dub producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s seemingly limitless musical puzzle, Black Ark In Dub and Black Ark Volume 2, were released by VP Records on Friday. The tracks were recorded at his iconic Black Ark studio just before the eccentric Perry admittedly burnt it down. The albums were originally issued on the Black Ark International label.

According to a release, “VP brings each of these original LPs back for a new generation, also combining them on one 19-track CD and digital-streaming release.”

Black Ark In Dub features bass heavy, spooky dub deconstructions of Lacksley Castell’s Jah Love Is Sweeter, Carole Cole and Aisha Morrison’s Ethiopia, Lee Perry’s Lion A De Winner, Watty Burnett’s Open The Gate, George Faith’s G uideline, and Danny Hensworth’s Mr. Money Man, along with an embellished dub version of Ras Keatus I’s Dreadlocks I and Guidance, a Jah Shaka Sound System staple exclusive to this album.

Black Ark Vol 2 is more vocal oriented, featuring extended dub mixes of Carol Cole’s Ethiopia, The Originals Got To Be Irie, Junior Byles’ Mumbling & Grumbling, and The Inamans’ remake of the Bee Gees’ hit How Deep Is your Love, along with an alternative take of the Silvertones’ roots classic Give Thanks (with a flute overdub), as well as a couple of excellent covers from Third World lead vocalist Bunny Rugs. Vol 2 is expanded for this release with the vocal version of Jah Love Is Sweeter.

The deluxe CD packaging includes a 1,500-word contextual essay from Lee Perry biographer David Katz. The VP reissue preserves the edits and tape splicing of the original releases.


Lee Scratch Perry, 84, is one of reggae’s iconic producers, long associated with his friend Bob Marley, during a key period early in the 1970s while reggae was emerging as a new genre, resulting in classics such as Soul Rebel, Duppy Conqueror, Sun Is Shining, and the later Smile Jamaica and Punky Reggae Party. Scratch was one of the key architects of reggae’s emerging subgenre ‘dub,’ applying his eccentric personality to reshaping the sonic landscape and achieving global influence in the process. His famed Black Ark Studio in the Washington Gardens neighbourhood of Kingston was the centre of reggae’s most progressive and experimental efforts from 1973-1983 and developed a readily recognisable sonic texture that people try to imitate to the present day.

The VP Records relationship with Lee Perry and his wife, Pauline Morrison, extends to the days of Randy’s Record Mart in Kingston, where the company released Lacksley Castell’s Jah Love Is Sweeter and other singles and continued as the company was up and running in New York in 1977, starting with The Congos’ masterpieces Row Fisherman and Congoman; The Heptones’ Party Time; and the classic Lee Perry LP Roast Fish, Collie Weed, and Corn Bread.