Album: Lee Scratch Perry

Jamaican ET, Sanctuary/Trojan
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The Independent Culture

Few musicians have so assiduously cultivated a reputation for heedless eccentricity as Lee "Scratch" Perry, the Upsetter, the towering production genius of reggae. He's the genre's Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Captain Beefheart rolled into one, a man so utterly bonkers that when apprehended, half-naked and brandishing a machete, near the home of his American promoter in 1982, he informed the arresting officers that "they are the terrorists and I am Dr Sea Bat, here to bless the land and curse the evil." Since the mysterious razing of his Black Ark Studio in 1979, Perry has wandered like a lost soul, releasing occasional lacklustre albums, of which Jamaican ET is the latest and, it must be said, most extreme, even by his standards. Eschewing his usual wild dub effects, the album features fairly routine reggae backing tracks over which Scratch offers a stream-of-consciousness selection of his thoughts. He's done this kind of thing many times before, but here he ups the ante by babbling different proclamations simultaneously from the left, right and centre channels, a virtually unlistenable three-pronged barrage of nonsense punctuated occasionally by a female chorus cooing things such as: "LSD! LSD! We love you, Mr Perry!" It's unnervingly like hearing a mind battling with itself, as non sequitur parries absurdity and the English language dissolves into gobbledegook under the strain. Beyond bizarre.

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