Reggae icon Lee “Scratch” Perry’s upcoming album Revelation will be released by Megawave, with North American distribution through MVD on August 10, 2010. The Grammy winner’s album will complete a trilogy of works with multi-instrumentalist Steve Marshall, following Scratch Came, Scratch Saw, Scratch Conquered and the Grammy-nominated The End of An American Dream. Like Scratch Came, this album also features guests Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and funkster George Clinton.
Perry will be playing concerts in five cities in the States, including New York and Los Angeles, in August 2010 to promote the album. He certainly brought some interesting baggage last year to his Los Angeles show.
The 74-year-old Perry is an engineer, producer, songwriter, and performer who has pioneered numerous musical innovations in his work with dub and reggae. Perry, whose prolific volumes of work began to amass during the ’50s, received the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for his album Jamaican E.T. and his Repentance disc was nominated for that title earlier this year.
In addition to his seminal work in reggae and as an instigator when it came to dub, Perry’s musical Midas touch will long continue to be of note. His brilliant studio production is heard on works that include some of the most historic reggae albums ever recorded. Perry’s groundbreaking and experimental studio work changed the face of music, as he became a major influence, not only on the reggae artists he produced, such as Bob Marley and The Wailers, Max Romeo, and Junior Murvin, but his experimental visionary artistry also cast a spell on countless other artists that have included rockers like The Clash, with whom he worked on “Complete Control.”
On Revelation, Keith Richards appears on the track “Book of Moses,” playing funky blues guitar, offering an enticing vamp and double stops. The fusion of blues guitar with Perry’s vocals is exquisite.
Perry says of Richards, “We don’t meet person to person. We meet spiritually. We speak through the spiritual world to each other through the music. The music is our god, a God blessed power, like when we are talking on the phone now, so when I send out a message, people like that can understand what is perfect and is right, and Keith Richards also, he’s on a mission like me. I’m on a mission working for God. Me and Keith, we talk to each other in the spirit, and we know what were talking about because we’re coming from the same place. Some of us where we came from, some of us are human beings and some of us are angels in human form, and we came here to fight against people who are doing the wrong things to other people.”
In the track, Perry’s lyrics refer to Moses, who had to take his shoes off before he got to the burning bush. In a recent interview with me, Perry says he has been in that position himself. He comments, “To be the person you have to be, you have to take off your shoes, because an angel call me, and see things you should not do, and you see the change. You have no shoes and no boots on and you talk to God.”
Perhaps the song isn’t just about Moses taking off his shoes because of a burning bush. It was that burning guitar work that would lead him to the top of the Mount Zion.
(Lee “Scratch” Perry’s shoe. Photo ©Phyllis Pollack)
The production on Revelation is both captivating and well-paired with Perry’s genius. According to the album’s producer, John Saxon of State of Emergency in the UK, “Lee’s vocals were recorded in Switzerland. The rhythm section and the back-up vocals on “Revelation Revolution and Evolution” in London. Lee sung those background vocals to me over the phone. I got ElodieO and Abi Browning in to record them the next day. Keith Richards and George Clinton recorded their parts in the U.S.A. I took all the recordings back to my lab in Somerset to mix and edit, adding saxophones, percussion, guitars and keyboards along the way.”Saxon adds, “The whole thing took more than a year to complete. Lee said the sessions were ‘easy’ for him because ‘everything just went smooth and flowed nicely.”