Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: 10 of his greatest recordings

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Erin MacLeod

Guest
From Bob Marley to the Congos, Junior Murvin and his own outstanding work on the mic, we celebrate the work of a man who seemed to dissolve time

When I moved to Kingston, Jamaica, in 2003 for a job, it was in the month that Lee “Scratch” Perry won the best reggae album Grammy for Jamaican ET, a record that, in true Scratch style, contained everything including the kitchen sink. I remember tuning in to a call-in radio programme during which Jamaicans were wondering who this guy was. It was not entirely surprising – Perry, though arguably the most influential Jamaican artist (and therefore arguably one of the most influential artists ever), is most renowned for his work as producer rather than frontman.

In truth, Perry – who has died aged 85 – was astoundingly skilled and prolific in both roles, and so it would be laughable to attempt any comprehensive “best of” or representative listing of Perry’s work (though you could turn to this good primer by David Katz, author of the exhaustive and essential 2000 biography People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee “Scratch” Perry). The music he created seems to expand – perhaps explode – all notions of what music can be, so it is more prudent to pick some standouts that demonstrate his breadth and depth than a definitive greatest hits.

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