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Lee Perry and The Upsetters - High Plains Drifter

Lee Perry and The Upsetters - High Plains Drifter

Lee Perry and The Upsetters - High Plains Drifter

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A fine collection that showcases Perry's development as a producer in those formative years.

Sampler

Lee Perry and The Upsetters - High Plains DrifterLee Perry has had his works collated and represented on umpteen compilations over the years but this brand new album from Pressure Sounds, featuring the Upsetters and covering the period from 1968 to 1973, is probably the first shall we say new collection of his work many will have heard for a long time. The reasons for this is that despite these cuts being around 40years old what we have are 20 undocumented singles (including one dub plate) that for whatever reason never made it out of Jamaica.

From the outset of Perry’s musical career he was regarded as a producer who wanted to push musical boundaries and this helped that set him apart from other Reggae producers and artists. He had a broad range of influences but his main passion was for US R&B and Spaghetti Westerns. He married the two together with great effect for his UK Top 5 hit ‘Return of Django’. That perfect marriage is carried on here on opening track ‘Val Blows In’ with the tenor saxophone of Val Bennett in fine fettle highlighting the R&B influence in the horns that were a trade mark on many of Perry’s early productions. Other tracks displaying that unashamed Spaghetti Western influence are title track ‘High Plains Drifter’, a re-cut of Sir Lord Comics classic ‘Django Shoots First’ (‘Bronco’ in the UK), ‘The Man With No Name’ and ‘Amigo’, another re-cut this time though of the Upsetters ‘Sipreano’, a track inspired by a character in a 1966 Steve McQueen western, Nevada Smith. The song opens with one of those classic spoken Perry intros where he could be advising a fellow gunslinger that "yesterday you where my very good friend, today you are my enemy, that’s bad, you’re no good amigo” or maybe its just another pop at producer/artist he has just fallen out with? You never know with Perry! Then there is the plainly titled, ‘Boss’ featuring ex-mento star Count Sticky, who also provided many of these spoken intros along with exulted vocal blasts on many of Perry’s early productions. Another Perry fave is Dave Barker, who hit the UK #1 spot with Ansell Collins on ‘Double Barrel’ turning up with ‘Next To You’ and ‘Sitting And Waiting’ two songs with undisputed butt, shaking, funk flowing through their veins aided by his James Brown, Otis Redding growl. Jimmy and the Inspirations ‘Aint No Love’ is one of those soulful Motownesque numbers while the Ethiopians Rasta praising ‘Awake’ shows Perry’s willingness to produce and allow Rastafarian beliefs and ideals to be put to music when many of the islands producers would shy away from these. Another way in which Perry pushed boundaries comes by way of the Mellotones ‘What A Botheration’, where in 1968 he used the pans, much as he did in ‘Handy Cap’, to provide a new feel to an existing piece of work. This original “alternate mix” would soon become one of Perry’s production trademarks at his fabled Black Ark studio and is now considered the norm in everyday part of music marketing.

This great collection showcases Perry’s development as a producer in those formative years and is a must for any fan of Boss or Early Reggae; indeed I’d say it is a must for any music fan as a display of what helped to make Perry such a highly influential producer.

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