Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Upsetter 1972 - 1973: The Rise Of The Black Ark

Welcome to volume six, the final part in our series 'The Upsetter', one that will cover the recordings and productions of Lee "Scratch" Perry between 1972 and 1973.

During this period Scratch was continuing to work with a variety of known and unknown vocalists and groups, whilst assembling the "third generation" Upsetters and building his very own recording studio.

Whilst still collaborating with the likes of Junior Byles, Leo Graham, Chenley Duffus and many others Perry began experimenting deeper with the musical rhythms and began crafting a new, unique sound that would become known as Dub.


Note:  Check out the previous volumes in this series by following the links below:

The Upsetter 1963 - 1967: The Birth Of King Perry

The Upsetter 1968 - 1969: I Am The Upsetter

The Upsetter 1969 - 1970: The Upsetter Record Shop

The Upsetter 1970 - 1971: Lee "Scratch" Perry - The Mighty Upsetter

The Upsetter 1971 - 1972: Wonderman And The Justice League


Lee Perry spent much of 1972 and 1973 recording at Dynamic Sounds Studio on Bell Road, at the time the leading recording studio in Jamaica, run by studio boss Byron Lee and engineer Carlton Lee.

The studio had some of finest equipment available at the time, including a 16 track machine, and Perry was comfortable with the arrangements he made regarding payments, fees and distribution.

Around this time Perry also began to use the small facilities on Dromilly Avenue owned by Osbourne Ruddock, better known as King Tubby, whose custom built studio wasn't large enough to record and build rhythms but was ideal for adding vocals and mixing sound overdubs and effects.

As Lee Perry and King Tubby began collaborating more frequently the pair started to develop a new style and innovation in their mixing techniques and the already wild and experimental rhythms and instrumentals that Perry was creating were becoming more spacious and atmospheric.

                                                     {Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock}
In 1972 The Wailers had begun their international journey when they signed for the UK based Island Records but in Jamaica the groups 'Tuff Gong' label was still active in releasing singles, some of which had been recorded earlier whilst with Lee Perry.

"Satisfy My Soul Babe" and "Concrete Jungle" appeared around this time, the latter song a different version entirely to the one that would feature on their major label debut LP "Catch A Fire".

At this time Lee Perry was still cutting great sides with Junior Byles such as "When Will Better Come", "Education Rock" and "Come Da Da" (a duet credited to  Chubby And Scratch).


Meanwhile Trojan Records decided to capitalise on The Wailers new found international fame by finally releasing the Perry-produced album "Soul Revolution" which they had turned down a year or so before, renaming it "African Herbsman".

The album adds two Wailers self-produced tracks, "Lively Up Yourself" and "Trench Town Rock", whilst removing the instrumental "Memphis" and replacing it with Peter Tosh's "400 Years".


"African Herbsman" is actually a pretty strong collection with a number of great songs that showcase both the Wailers vocal skills and Lee Perry's inventive production style. It remains a popular album amongst Marley and Perry listeners.

The next full album that Lee Perry began working on would be yet another highly experimental effort that would mark a turning point toward the type of music and concept album style that Perry would focus on in the future, especially later on when his own studio was completed.

The album, entitled "Cloak And Dagger", features predominantly Upsetter instrumentals but the difference was in the way they were now being mixed, using King Tubby's facilities Perry could overdub and add wild and eerie effects and completely enhance the whole experience of each song.


Tommy McCook was heavily involved in the project and provides full horn arrangements throughout whilst organist Winston Wright shines strongly on a number of solo sides. The album was released on the 'Upsetter' label in Jamaica whilst Rhino Records picked it up in the UK.

                                                    {Tommy McCook / Winston Wright}

Lee Perry is vocal throughout the album, most notably on the track "Caveman Skank", but the majority of the proto-dub instrumentals were based on recent singles such as I-Roy's "Hail Stones" and Winston Blake's "Public Jestering" (credited to one Judge Winchester).

                                                                            {Winston Blake aka Judge Winchester}

Whilst still using the 'Upsetter', 'Justice League' and 'Wizz-Dom' imprints for much of his Jamaican releases Perry also created 'Orchid', 'Black Art Records', 'Perries', 'Scratch' and 'Black Art' labels for his increasing output of singles.

The original 'Black Art Records' label featured a sun and moon design and was yet another nod to the mystical black science and obeah connections as seen on earlier 'Upsetter' logos. The 'Upset Records' imprint also made occasional reappearances.


The incorporation of the phrase Black Art was both in relation to the specific magic used by obeahmen and the simple fact that this was black music or black artistry. The naming of Perry's studio as The Black Art Studio later intertwined with the spiritual Ark of the covenant becoming The Black Ark, a righteous place to practise the black arts of deep roots Reggae music.

During this period Perry was still collaborating with long time associates Chenley Duffus, David Isaacs, Dennis Alcapone and Leo Graham, all of which continued to cut popular singles.

                                                        {Chenley Duffus / David Isaacs}

                                                      {Dennis Alcapone / Leo Graham}

Chenley Duffus scored a massive hit with the earliest Lee Perry production of "To Be A Lover", the sparse and atmospheric rhythm was hugely popular and one that Perry would return to frequently in the coming years, particularly when working with Earl George (aka George Faith) in the late 1970's.

The "To Be A Lover" rhythm was so popular that other producers licensed it from Perry for their own vocal sides which included numerous deejay versions.


David Isaacs also cut some cracking singles during this time including "Just Enough", "We Are Neighbours" and "Stranger On The Shore".


Another popular rhythm created by Perry around this time was for Leo Graham's "Three Blind Mice" which was basically the famous nursery rhyme. Again a whole bunch of deejay cuts can be found with this rhythm which was also picked up by King Tubby for his explosive "Three Times Three".


Graham also recorded "News Flash" which along with it's Upsetter b-side "Flashing Echo" made full use of the echo chamber effects provided at Tubby's.

The next album released by Lee Perry was "Rhythm Shower" in 1973, it once again features a mix of instrumentals alongside vocal and deejay cuts.


"Rhythm Shower" features the talents of a young Lester Bullock who was brought to Perry's attention via Dennis Alcapone who originally named him Alcapone Junior but Perry decided to name him after a different American gangster, John Dillinger.

The album is also notable for the use of older rhythms from Perry's earlier hits such as "Tighten Up" and "Stranger On The Shore" given the spacey echo treatment of Tubby's studio. Neville Grant also cut the vocal "Sick And Tired" using the "Return Of Django" rhythm which appeared as a single around this time.


                             {Lester "Dillinger" Bullock}
Dillinger recorded heavily for Perry during this time, singles such as "Wam-Pam-Pa-Do", "John Devour", "Headquarters", "Ensome City Skank" and "Middle East Rock" appeared and although they weren't massive sellers they helped raise the profile of the young deejay who would become hugely popular by the end of the decade.

U-Roy was still top of the pack in terms of deejay's on record and he still frequently collaborated with Lee Perry around this time cutting such tracks as "006", "Stick Together", "Space Flight" and "Double Six" whilst friendly rival I-Roy dropped "Doctor Who", "High Fashion" and "Hail Stones".


                                             Ewart "U-Roy" Beckford / Roy "I-Roy" Reid}
Lee Perry was also recording his own vocal singles more frequently during this time, he had been focusing on other vocalists in the last few years but again started voicing singles such as "Bathroom Skank", "Justice To The People", "Jungle Lion", "Kentucky Skank", "Station Underground News" and "Cow Thief Skank".


 All of these singles were wildly inventive, "Bathroom Skank" and it's version side "Washroom Skank" were complete with sound effects and echoing vibrations, "Jungle Lion" is a beautifully performed Upsetter instrumental piece filled with Perry exclamations and "Justice To The People" borrows heavily from The Chi-Lites' "Give More Power To The People" (a song that Perry samples on his "Station Underground News" long before the invention of the sampler!).

"Kentucky Skank" is another delightful number that speaks fondly of the Colonel's secret recipe chicken because as Scratch says "....box of chickens....keeps the drum kicking".

The most bizarre and outlandish song of the period is easily "Cow Thief Skank", a duet between Perry and Charlie Ace that was an attack on Niney Holness, it's filled with effects such as a mooing cow whilst the rhythm is actually three different Perry tracks spliced together, which is further evident on the version side "Seven And Three Quarter Skank".

Around this time Leroy Sibbles was also working at Dynamics studio with his group The Heptones and they recorded the song "I Do Love You" for Perry, The Heptones would frequently return to Perry and would later record their incredible album "Party Time" at Perry's Black Ark studio.

Another vocal group that Perry began working with closely around this time were The Silvertones made up of Delroy Denton, Gilmore Grant and Keith Coley. They knew Perry from his days at The Upsetter Record Shop on Charles Street and sought him out for their latest material.


Lee Perry's studio was partially operational by the end of 1973 and it's said that he recorded the basis for The Silvertones rhythms in the studio before further embellishing them at King Tubby's where the vocals were also recorded.

The result of the collaboration between Lee Perry and The Silvertones was the album "Silver Bullets", released on the 'Black Art Records' label in Jamaica and Trojan Records in the UK.


"Silver Bullets" is mainly a collection of love songs featuring "Early In The Morning", "Are You Sure", "That's When It Hurts", "He'll Break Your Heart" and "I'll Take You Home" (which opens with the sound of Perry pulling up in his car to offer a young female a ride).

The stand out track on the album is easily "Rejoice Jah Jah Children" which almost sounds like it should be on a completely different album, it's a powerful vocal with a just as powerful and rootsy rhythm, a sign of what was to come from The Black Ark studio around the corner.

Lee Perry always seemed to have a fondness for three-part harmony groups, around this time he also collaborated with The Carltons, The Maytones, The Hurricanes, The Melodians and The Flames.

                               {Carlton And The Shoes / Danny Clarke (The Hurricanes)}

                      {The Melodians (featuring Tony Brevett) / Winston Jarrett (The Flames)}

The Hurricanes had been working with Perry for a long time and singer Danny Clarke would later join The Meditations who would cut some crucial sides at the Black Ark. Other vocal groups working with Perry at this time included The Classics, The Soulettes and The Groovers.

                                       {The Maytones / The Soulettes {Featuring Rita Marley}


Some of Perry's singles from the period were collected for the album release "Double Seven" which was again released on the 'Black Art' imprint in Jamaica and Trojan Records in the UK.


This one focused more on vocal cuts with just a couple of instrumentals and features U-Roy ("Double Six" / "Stick Together"), David Isaacs ("We Are Neighbours" / "Just Enough") and I-Roy ("Hail Stones" / "High Fashion") alongside The Upsetters favourites "Jungle Lion" and "Kentucky Skank".

It also includes two Perry vocal tracks, "Cold Weather" and "Soul Man", the latter being a take on the Sam And Dave classic performed in Perry's own delightful style with nice female backing.

"Rhythm Shower" is a nice, relaxed album that probably stands as the best of his vocal / instrumental collections for Trojan Records but things were about to change, the sound of Reggae music was about to evolve and Lee Perry would once again be at the forefront in it's development.

With his studio nearing full completion Lee Perry was spending more time at Tubby's collaborating and experimenting on new techniques, incorporating echo, reverb, sound effects and more onto his rhythms.

Before 1973 was over Lee Perry released a landmark album that was unlike anything in music at that time, by completely deconstructing his original rhythms, adding and removing parts of the track and vocal, mixing and remixing, including new effects and overall redeveloping the atmosphere of the music Scratch and Tubby had created Dub with the LP "14 Dub Blackboard Jungle".


The album features many of Lee Perry's most popular rhythms including The Wailers' "Keep On Moving", "Kaya" and "Dreamland", Junior Byles' "A Place Called Africa" and Chenley Duffus' "To Be A Lover" all in wonderful, surreal and atmospheric Dub.

Dillinger appears on a couple of tracks as does Perry himself but it's the music that really shines on this album, it showcases the quality of  Reggae, every instrument and sound in the mix exploding and clashing creating a picture and story within the mind of the listener.

Originally "14 Dub Blackboard Jungle" was only given a very limited release in Jamaica on the 'Upsetter' label of roughly 300 to 400 copies and it remains open to debate as to whether or not it is the first ever Dub album.

As 1973 was drawing to an end the Black Ark studio was being used more and more frequently as equipment was installed and the facility, although rudimentary, was becoming functional.

Perry worked with the female vocalists Annette Clarke and Joy White around this time cutting such singles as "Just One Look" and "Sinner Man" (with Clarke) and "Yakkety Yak" and "Lay Down Beside Me" (with White). Another curious single was credited to Cynty And The Monkees.


                                                                                                  {Joy White}

"Lay Down Beside Me" would later be a hit for Susan Cadogan when Perry chose to recut the song for her album "Sexy Suzy" in 1974.

Another big hit came from Junior Byles whose "Curly Locks" even made waves in the UK, but Byles' rendition of the Peggy Lee favourite "Fever" would feature one of Perry's most enduring rhythms, one that would resurface on numerous occasions and was also recut by Susan Cadogan.


The "Fever" rhythm led to cuts by King Medious (aka Milton Henry), Augustus Pablo and Jah T as well as a number of different dub versions by Perry himself.

                                          {Augustus Pablo / Milton "King Medious" Henry}

Augustus Pablo was becoming a regular player within Perry's Upsetters although never officially a member he appears on a number of Perry productions from 1973 onwards including the single "Our Man Flint" alongside Lloyd Young.


Another cracking single worth a mention is Stranger Cole and Gladstone Anderson's "Conqueror" which features a great Upsetters version on the flip.


We will end on possibly the strongest single from this era, a superb vocal and another of Lee Perry's best known rhythms known as "Words".

Anthony "Sangie" Davis had a talent for songwriting and was favoured by Bob Marley in later years, along with his group The Gatherers they cut the single "Start Over" for Perry's 'Justice League' label.


                                                                           {Anthony 'Sangie' Davis - The Gatherers}

It was followed up by "Words" which was released in Jamaica on the 'Upsetter' label, the song features an epic Upsetters rhythm and again one that would resurface many times, even today it still pops up. The strongly biblical lyrics, powerful harmonies and overall epic feeling of the song has made it one of the landmark singles of Lee Perry's career.

It was given a different mix on it's UK release which came bizarrely from the Arthur Reid related 'Duke' label although the version side remains largely untouched.

"Words" almost immediately showcased what the Black Ark studio was capable of whilst it also demonstrates the type of music Perry was intending to create there, this would be deep, atmospheric, raw, Roots Reggae music that would incorporate and continue to progress Dub.

The Black Ark studio would eventually lead the way in Roots Rockers and Dub, the music that Lee Perry would create in the tiny little facility in his back garden would break into international territory and climb the charts, it would take Reggae further and make Lee "Scratch" Perry the leading producer of Jamaican music for many years to come.

If you would like to explore the music of The Black Ark then please check out our companion series "Black Ark Music 1973 - 1980" - Volume One is available by following this link:http://sweetrarereggaemusic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/black-ark-music-1973-1980-volume-one.html


 Disc One:

1) The Wailers - Concrete Jungle
2) The Upsetters - Ammunition
3) The Heptones - I Do Love You
4) The Upsetters - I Do Love You (Version)
5) Chenley Duffus - To Be A Lover
6) The Upsetters - Lover's Skank
7) I Roy - Doctor Who
8) The Upsetters - Doctor Who (Version)
9) Junior Byles - Education Rock
10) Stranger & Gladdy - Conqueror
11) The Upsetters - Conqueror (Version)
12) The Classics - Civilisation
13) The Wailers - Satisfy My Soul Babe
14) The Upsetters - Satisfy My Soul Babe (Version)
15) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Black IPA
16) The Upsetters - IPA Skank
17) U-Roy - Space Flight
18) Chenley Duffus - At The End Of A Rainbow
19) Chenley Duffus - Goodnight My Love
20) Glen Adams - Capo

Disc Two

1) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Sunshine Showdown
2) The Upsetters - Double Power
3) I Roy - Hail Stones
4) Winston Wright & The Upsetters - Hail Stones
5) Leo Graham - News Flash
6) The Upsetters - Flashing Echo
7) Chenley Duffus - Standing On The Hill
8) Lee "Scratch" Perry & Charlie Ace - Cow Thief Skank
9) The Upsetters - Seven And Three Quarter Skank
10) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Jungle Lion
11) The Upsetters - Jungle Skank
12) The Upsetters - Freak Out Skank
13) Junior Byles - When Will Better Come
14) The Upsetters - Ski Wa Wa
15) Dillinger - Wam Pam Pa Do
16) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Justice To The People
17) The Upsetters - Verse Two
18) Neville Grant - Sick And Tired
19) Dillinger - Tighten Up Skank
20) The Upsetters - Operation

Disc Three

1) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Bathroom Skank
2) The Upsetters - Washroom Skank
3) Leo Graham - Want A Whine
4) The Upsetters - Double Whine
5) U-Roy - Stick Together
6) The Originals - Got To Be Irie
7) The Upsetters - Irie Irie
8) Dillinger - John Devour
9) David Isaacs - Stranger On The Shore
10) Gene Rondo - Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen
11) Al Maytone - Do Good
12) Dennis Alcapone - Rub-A-Dub
13) The Upsetters - Rub-A-Dub (Version)
14) The Soulettes - This World
15) Chenley Duffus - Black Girl In My Bed
16) Dillinger - Headquarters
17) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Station Underground News
18) U-Roy - 006
19) The Silvertones - Take Time Out
20) David Isaacs - We Are Neighbours

Disc Four

1) Dave Barker & The Upsetters - Hot Line
2) The Silvertones - Just Like A Log
3) Ken McKay - Nobody Knows
4) The Flames - True Believer
5) Annette Clarke - Just One Look
6) Lloyd Tyrell - Big Eight
7) Soul Rebels - Judgement Day Is Near
8) The Upsetters - Sokup
9) David Isaacs - Just Enough
10) The Silvertones - That's When It Hurts
11) The Flames - Water Your Garden
12) Dillinger - Connection
13) Annette Clarke - Sinner Man
14) The Upsetters - Rumpelsteelkin
15) I Roy - High Fashion
16) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Waap You Waa
17) Carl Bert - I Man Ah Bawl
18) Dillinger - Skanking
19) The Silvertones - He'll Break Your Heart
20) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Soul Man

Disc Five

1) The Silvertones - I'll Take You Home
2) Tony Brevett - Just Been Feeling Bad
3) The Upsetters - Creation
4) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Kentucky Skank
5) The Upsetters - Long Sentence
6) U-Roy - Double Six
7) The Silvertones - Souvenir Of Mexico
8) The Upsetters - Jungle Fever
9) Lloyd Parks - Professor Ironside
10) The Upsetters - Side Gate
11) Judge Winchester - Public Jestering
12) Tommy McCook - Rude Walking
13) The Silvertones - Soul Sister
14) Leo Graham - Three Blind Mice
15) The Upsetters - Mice Skank
16) Dillinger - Ensome City Skank
17) The Upsetters - Boloman Skank
18) The Silvertones - Are You Sure?
19) The Upsetters - Musical Transplant
20) Sound Dimension - Upsetter's Dream

Disc Six:

1) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Cold Weather
2) Junior Byles & Lee Perry - Come Da Da
3) The Upsetters - Come Da Da (Version)
4) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Bucky Skank
5) The Upsetters - Yucky Skank
6) Winston Wright & The Upsetters - Liquid Serenade
7) Tommy McCook - Iron Claw
8) The Upsetters - Pe-We Special
9) The Silvertones - Early In The Morning
10) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Caveman Skank
11) The Upsetters - Apeman Skank
12) Dillinger - Doctor Skank
13) Leo Graham - Jump It
14) The Upsetters - Retail Love
15) Lee Perry & Jerry Lewis - Burning Wire
16) The Groovers - Pi-A-Ring
17) Lloyd Young - Our Man Flint
18) Junior Byles - Fun And Games
19) The Upsetters - Show Me Your Motion
20) The Silvertones - Feel Alright

Disc Seven

1) Tommy McCook & The Upsetters - Cloak And Dagger
2) Dillinger - Lover's Skank
3) The Upsetters - Lover's Skank (Version)
4) The Upsetters - African Skank
5) The Upsetters - Dreamland Skank
6) The Silvertones - Rock Me In Your Soul
7) The Upsetters - Jungle Jim
8) The Upsetters - Big Bird Skank
9) Lee & Jimmy - Key Card
10) Dillinger - Black Panther
11) Dillinger - Dub Organiser
12) Cynty & The Monkees - Lady Lady
13) The Upsetters - Lady Dragon
14) The Upsetters - Mooving Skank
15) The Upsetters - Kaya Skank
16) Joy White - Lay Down Beside You
17) The Hurricanes - You Can Run
18) The Upsetters - You Can Dub
19) Dillinger - Middle East Rock
20) The Silvertones - Rejoice Jah Jah Children
21) The Upsetters - Rejoicing Skank

Disc Eight:

1) Tommy McCook & The Upsetters - Cloak And Dagger (Dub Plate)
2) Carlton & The Shoes - Better Days
3) The Gatherers - Start Over
4) The Upsetters - Start Over (Version)
5) Junior Byles - Fever
6) The Upsetters - Fever Grass
7) King Medious - This World
8) The Upsetters - Medious Serenade
9) Prince Philio - Hot Pipe
10) Augustus Pablo Meets The Upsetter - Hot And Cold
11) Jah T - Lick The Pipe Peter
12) Junior Byles - Curly Locks
13) Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Dreader Locks
14) Johnny Lover - Curly Locks
15) The Gatheres - Words (Jamaican 7'' Single)
16) The Upsetters - Words (Version) (Jamaican 7'' Single)
17) The Gatherers - Words (UK 7'' Single)
18) The Upsetters - Words (Version) (UK 7'' Single)
19) Dillinger - Bring The Kutchy Come
20) The Upsetters - Kutchy Skank
21) Prince Django - Hot Tip

Get It Here -   https://www.4shared.com/zip/5XXTKS8oce/T-U-1972-1973.html

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