Lee “Scratch” Perry


Thursday, October 2, 2014
Junior Delgado – “Son of Slaves” (12-inch version) from I am the Upsetter: The Story of Lee “Scratch” Perry: Golden Years (2005 Trojan Records)


Let’s start with this: this is a collection you should own. Lee “Scratch” Perry is one of the first — if not the first — reggae musicians to wander into territory that would later be known as dubHis “studio as instrument” production techniques are legendary and so important. Even if you aren’t crazy about Jamaican music, the influence that reggae and dub (and by no small extension, Perry) had on alternative music from the seventies and eighties until today is vast.

Junior Delgado was a roots reggae singer whose music benefited from Perry’s creative production. Here a catchy reggae tune with social commentary (are we not the sons of slaves?) and talk about running away from Babylon to Jah gets reworked — at times this is reverbed, that is echoed, that drops out of the mix, this becomes more prominent, and really this is the genius of dub production: finding the most interesting parts about a song, isolating them, and using the available studio tricks (in Pery’s four track studio!) to highlight them and thereby make them more interesting, which is kind of the opposite of what I’m doing in trying to intellectualize an abstract explanation of what dub music is and how it works.

When really, what you need to do is kick back and turn it up, probably on repeat.

Before that, though, a couple of items of note: 1) This originally appeared on a 1977 Delgado 45 on Black Art Records, produced by Perry. 2) Even so, my digital version of the Perry box set says that it is from a 12″ version, which is why I noted it above 3) That version was released in 2005, apparently, which is the same year that Delgado shuffled off this mortal coil. 4) YouTube comments lead me to believe that a version of this song appeared on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto 5That keeps happening.