Monday, 8 December 2014

Oliver: Lee Perry and the Upsetters - Return of the Super Ape (10 November 1991)

Our first reggae selection on this blog comes courtesy one of the genre's most revered practitioners.  Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Upsetters had worked together over a period of some nine years when they came to release their final album together, 1978's Return of the Super Ape, which was a sequel to Super Ape, released two years previously.
It's a thin line between pioneer and crackpot.  Perry's dub techniques walk that line expertly.  It takes a singular mind to think, "I know what will work on this track.  We should make the whole thing sound like it's being played on a radio which can be heard at the end of the street and which the listener will try to hear though squelches, blamps and the sound of someone doing some greivous bodily harm to a set of water pipes."
It's typical of Peel that he played this track in response to a listener request on the November 10 show, rather than some of the album's more palatable cuts like Tell Me Something Good or Jah Jah Ah Natty Dread.
What draws me in is that aforementioned distance on the saxophone, bass and drums - the melody being carried woozily in another section of the mind and heard through the fuzz of other sounds - chased like a through line on an Escher pattern where all else is minor chaos.  It's these threads of sense that can be held onto while listening to the "strange stuff" that can be the difference between retention and rejection on a mix tape.  The album as a whole is a wonderful piece of work.

Video courtesy of jam1tune.

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