Pioneering Reggae musician and producer Lee Scratch Perry has passed at 85

The unpredictable, eccentric, maverick, pioneering Reggae producer, and musical genius Lee Scratch Perry has passed at 85.

Lee Scratch Perry was born into harsh poverty in rural Jamaica and throughout his life walked a very thin line between genius and insanity. He worked in various menial jobs before moving to Kingston in the early 60’s where he eventually started working with Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and his touring sound system. Dodd and Perry eventually expanded into record production and, beginning a pattern that would follow Perry his whole life, Perry subsequently fell out with Dodd and went on to form his own Upsetter label.

Around this time, he produced many of  Bob Marley’s key early works, such as African Herbsman and had a profound effect on the young Marley’s creative vision and approach. Following the now clearly emerging pattern, the pair fell out after Lee Scratch Perry sold the master tapes of this early classic without Marley’s knowledge or consent.

His adventurous, ever-exploring production work in his legendary four track twelve-foot square Black Ark Studio in the mid to late 70’s cemented his reputation with a string of critically and commercially albums. And along the way with fellow sonic pioneer King Tubby, he was one of the key creative forces to create Dub music. However, his eccentric behaviour continued and came to a head in 1979, when fuelled by huge amounts of work, ganga and rum, he burnt the studio to the ground, believing it possessed and walked off into the wilderness. He eventually moved to Switzerland after spending time in the U.S, Amsterdam, and London, and only last year returned to Jamaica.

His later work was inconsistent but did include some fabulous collaborations with the likes of The Ord, The Beastie Boys and The  Clash, as well as fellow producers Adrian Sherwood and Mad Professor as well as several excellent solo albums. He also picked up a Grammy in 2003. During these later years was a failed attempt to rebuild the Black Ark studio, a plan which included a duck pond in the drum booth. It is an understatement to say we shall not see the likes of Lee Scratch Perry again.

We have an extensive selection of Lee Scratch Perry produced and created albums in our collection; below are just a few of our personal favourites. To see all of the Lee Scratch Perry works we have in our collection click here.

Arkology. / Perry, Lee
“Purportedly the definitive Lee “Scratch” Perry compilation, the three-CD set Arkology is loaded with good intentions and is carefully constructed, but with a back catalog like Perry’s — where it’s nearly impossible to find out what’s what — definitive in this case is a dream. Still, the compilers have done a fine job of providing an overview of Perry’s career that makes sense musically, historically, and culturally. For those who want to jump headlong into Perry’s world, this is the way to go.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

African herbsman / Marley, Bob
“The legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers album produced by Lee Scratch Perry.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

 

Lee Perry and King Tubby in dub confrontation. / Perry, Lee
“King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry deep in the cauldron of creativity that invented Dub reggae” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

The sound doctor : Lee Perry and the sufferers’ Black Ark singles and dub plates, 1972-1978. / Perry, Lee
“The Sound Doctor is one in a series of U.K. label Pressure Sounds compilations unearthing obscured sounds from Perry’s short-lived but intensely innovative Black Ark years. Much of the music here is transferred from dub plates, hissy acetate discs made directly from the soundboard in single editions to test how a mix would translate to vinyl.” (adapted from catalogue)

Super ape / Perry, Lee
” Often arguably cited as one of Lee Scratch Perry’s finest outings, but with so many exceptional albums it is a hard call to make. What there is no argument about is that  Super Ape is without any question an unparalleled dub and psychedelic reggae classic.” (Adapted from Catalogue). This is the vinyl copy; to check availability of the CD click here.

 

Scratch came Scratch saw Scratch conquered. / Perry, Lee
“Highly-regarded late period (2008) album from dub and reggae legend Lee Scratch Perry’. (Adapted from catalogue).

 

 

 

Blackboard jungle dub / Upsetters
“Essential Dub reggae album from Lee Scratch Perry and the Upsetters”(Adapted from catalogue)

 

 

 

Rootz reggae dub. / Perry, Lee
“On Rootz Reggae Dub Perry is doing his typical free-associative muttering over tasteful, slightly echoey backing tracks, featuring rudimentary percussion by Perry himself, as well as spirited backing vocals by Detroit trio Dames Brown and the Groovematist.  Essentially, it’s a lot of touching on past glories without really creating anything that stands up to them. Nevertheless, there are a few standout moments  which are calm, spacious, and pleasantly weird. ” (adapted from catalogue)

Rainford. / Perry, Lee
“Rainford contains all of Lee Perry’s unique stylings his wonderful iconic unmistakable vocal drawl and his trade mark free form lyrical style superbly combined with U Sounds musical production. The later dub remixed version Heavy rain is also worth a mention it is weirder and warmer and arguably an even better version of the material in Rainford.” (adapted from catalogue)
Click here for the availability of Heavy Rain.

Bunny Wailer, the last surviving founder member of The Wailers, passes at 73

The night is passed, the day is come
I see Jah shining in the shining sun.” Bunny Wailer – Lyrics from Armagideon. 

It is almost impossible to calculate the influence on modern music that The Wailers had. They revolutionised reggae, making it into the worldwide phenomenon it has become,  as well as leaving a cultural and social legacy way beyond their fabulous, and at the time ground-breaking, music. Bunny Wailer formed The Wailers with childhood friend Bob Marley in 1963 with Peter Tosh joining as the third core member soon after. They released their first album The Wailing Wailers in 1965; in actual fact, the release was less an album and more a collection of their best and most notable singles to that date, including such tracks as ‘Simmer Down’. It was their collaborations with producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry that was to really point the way to the future which was cemented when they released Catch a Fire on Island Records, often regarded as one of the greatest reggae albums of all time.

Bunny Wailer left The Wailers in 1973 and set off on an acclaimed solo career winning three Grammys along the way for best reggae album. We have extensive reggae, The Wailers and Bob Marley and the Wailers collections in our music collection – below are just a few of the highlights.

The wailing Wailers. / Wailers (Reggae)
“The Wailers first album containing: Put it on — I need you — Lonesome feeling — What’s new pussycat — One love — When the well runs dry — Ten commandments of love — Rude boy — It hurts to be alone — Love or affection — I’m still waiting — Simmer down.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) .

 

Blackheart man. / Wailer, Bunny
“Cast : Bunny Wailer,  Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Carlton “Carly” Barrett,  Robbie Shakespeare,  Tyrone Downie, Peter Tosh,  Tommy McCook and  Earl “Chinna” Smith.  Contents:  Blackheart man — Fighting against conviction — The oppressed song — Fig tree — Dream land — Rastaman — Reincarnated souls — Armagideon (Armagedon) — Bide up — This train.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

 

Catch a fire / Marley, Bob
“Catch a Fire was the major label debut for Bob Marley and the Wailers, and it was an international success upon its release in 1973. Although Bob Marley may have been the main voice, every member of the Wailers made valuable contributions and they were never more united in their vision and sound. All the songs were originals, and the instrumentation was minimalistic in order to bring out the passionate, often politically charged lyrics. This album is essential for any music collection.” (Catalogue)

Mama Africa. / Tosh, Peter
“Cast: Peter Tosh, Carlton “Santa” Davis, Lebert “Gibby” Morrison, Steve Golding, Donald Kinsey, Keith Stirling, Noel “Scully” Simms, Byron Allred and Dean “Youth Sax” Fraser. Contents : Side A: Mama Africa — Glass house — Not gonna give it up — Stop that train.  Side B: Johnny B. Goode — Where you gonna run — Peace treaty — Feel no way — Maga dog.” (Adapted from Catalogue.)  

 

Heavy rain. / Perry, Lee
“Produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry and Adrian Sherwood the dub companion to Rainford. Contents : Intro: music shall echo — Here come the warm dreads — Rattling bones and crowns — Mind worker — Enlightened — Hooligan Hank — Crickets in moonlight — Space craft — Dreams come true — Above and beyond — Heavy Rainford — Outro: wisdom.” (Adapted from Catalogue.)  

I & I : the natural mystics : Marley, Tosh and Wailer / Grant, Colin
“The Wailers are the undisputed kings of reggae, and one of the biggest and most influential groups of the 20th century. This book examines the history and development of the Wailers, and the overlapping stories of each member in detail. It also charts the complex relationship of these three strong personalities.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti poet, has passed aged 101

Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!” ― Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti, the founder of World-famous and hugely influential City lights Bookstore, has passed aged 101. Ferlinghetti and the City Lights Bookstore had close ties and associations with the American, radical, romantic and often perceived as hedonistic Beat generation.

Ferlinghetti disliked the association despite publishing the famous Howl and other poems by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg was one of the three very different writers that came to epitomise the Beat movement the others being Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Each in their own way explored ideas of individual freedom, views on sexuality, and questioned the mainstream values and norms of the time such as ecological issues or the destructive ideas that underpin modern capitalism.

The Beat generation made many of these at the time minority views acceptable allowing them to percolate into mainstream culture and paved the way for the 1960s counterculture, and many of their ideas are now regarded as the norm today.

Ferlinghetti was also a poet (A Coney Island of the mind sold over one million copies), an artist and self-confessed Anarchist activist who avoided personal publicity and biographical details as much as possible. Often making up different versions of his past when asked. In later years the City Lights bookstore became a tourist attraction and a cultural focal point in San Francisco. So much so that the City proclaimed March the 23rd, his birthday, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day”.

We have a wide collection of Beat generation titles and even some City Light published books in our collection. For a small selection see below.


A Coney Island of the mind : poems / Ferlinghetti, Lawrence
“Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind has become a modern classic. It has been translated into nine languages and there are now three-quarters of a million copies in print. The title of this book is taken from Henry Miller’s “Into the Night Life” and expresses the way Lawrence Ferlinghetti felt about these poems when he wrote them during a short period in the 1950’s as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Collected poems, 1947-1997 / Ginsberg, Allen
“The only volume of collected poems to cover the entire 50-year career of the poet “responsible for loosening the breath of American poetry at mid-century” (Helen Vendler). Here, for the first time, is a volume that gathers the published verse of Allen Ginsberg in its entirety, a half century of brilliant work from one of America’s great poets. The chief figure among the Beats, Ginsberg changed the course of American poetry, liberating it from closed academic forms with the creation of open, vocal, spontaneous, and energetic postmodern verse in the tradition of Walt Whitman, Guillaume Apollinaire, Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On the road / Kerouac, Jack
“On the Road is the classic story of two characters who set off on an odyssey through 1950s underground America. On the Road chronicles Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent, from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico, with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The voice is all : the lonely victory of Jack Kerouac / Johnson, Joyce
” In The Voice is All, Joyce Johnson, author of her classic memoir, Door Wide Open, about her relationship with Jack Kerouac, brilliantly peels away layers of the Kerouac legend to show how, caught between two cultures and two languages, he forged a voice to contain his dualities. Looking more deeply than previous biographers into how Kerouac’s French Canadian background enriched his prose and gave him a unique outsider’s vision of America, she tracks his development from boyhood through the phenomenal breakthroughs of 1951 that resulted in the composition of On the Road, followed by Visions of Cody.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Cities of the red night / Burroughs, William S.
“While young men wage war against an evil empire of zealous mutants, the population of this modern inferno is afflicted with the epidemic of a radioactive virus. An opium-infused apocalyptic vision from the legendary author of Naked Lunch is the first of the trilogy with The Places of the Dead Roads and his final novel, The Western Plains.” (Catalogue)

Literary outlaw : the life and times of William S. Burroughs / Morgan, Ted
“Almost indecently readable . . . captures [Burroughs’s] destructive energy, his ferocious pessimism, and the renegade brilliance of his style.”–Vogue With a new preface as well as a final chapter on William S. Burroughs s last years, the acclaimed Literary Outlaw is the only existing full biography of an extraordinary figure. Anarchist, heroin addict, alcoholic, and brilliant writer, Burroughs was the patron saint of the Beats. His avant-garde masterpiece Naked Lunch shook up the literary world with its graphic descriptions of drug abuse and illicit sex and resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling on obscenity.” (Catalogue)

Women of the Beat generation : the writers, artists, and muses at the heart of revolution
“An anthology of the lives, writings and secrets of the women of the Beat Generation, this book contains biographies poetry and prose by Hettie Jones, Joyce Johnson, Ruth Weiss, Jan Kerouac, and others. It contains commentary by American poet of the year Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg.” (Catalogue)

The Beat Hotel : Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963 / Miles, Barry
The Beat Hotel has been closed for nearly forty years. But for a brief period–from just after the publication of Howl in 1957 until the building was sold in 1963–it was home to Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Brion Gysin, Peter Orlovsky, Harold Norse, and a host of other luminaries of the Beat Generation. Now, Barry Miles–acclaimed author of many books on the Beats and a personal acquaintance of many of them–vividly excavates this remarkable period and restores it to a historical picture that has, until now, been skewed in favour of the two coasts of America.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The best minds of my generation : a literary history of the Beats / Ginsberg, Allen
“A unique and compelling history of the Beats, in the words of the movement’s most central member, Allen Ginsberg, based on a seminal series of his lectures In summer 1977, Ginsberg thought it was time for a literary history of what he, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and others had accomplished and designed a course he taught five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Morgan, this book presents those lectures, complete with notes. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

John le Carré dies aged 89

The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal.

John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

John le Carré, whose Cold War spy novels defined the period brilliantly — capturing the tensions and bleakness of the time — has died aged 89.

Born in 1931 as David Cornwell, he worked for the Secret Services (MI5 and MI6) in the 1950s and 60s. His first novel, Call for the dead, was pre-read and approved by the British Secret Service and introduced the world to the “breathtakingly ordinary … short, fat, and of a quiet disposition” George Smiley — famously played by Alec Guinness in the mini-series adaptations.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, he turned his attention to the arms trade with The Night Manager, big pharma with The Constant Gardener, and the war on terror with Absolute Friends. His final novel was A Legacy of Spies.

In 2016, the usually media shy John le Carré surprised the world with a memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, that talked openly and frankly about his difficult upbringing and what he perceived as his flaws. He will be remembered as a master storyteller by his legion of fans and admirers.


The pigeon tunnel : stories from my life / Le Carré, John
“What’s as good as reading a le Carré story? Reading le Carré’s life story, as told by the master himself. ‘Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I’m sitting now.’ From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion, to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and beyond.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A most wanted man / Le Carré, John
” A half-starved young Russian man is smuggled into Hamburg at night. He has cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa. Annabel, a young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client’s survival becomes more important to her than her own career.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and as a film .

The constant gardener / Le Carré, John
” Tessa Quayle, a brilliant and beautiful young social activist, has been found brutally murdered by Lake Turkana in Nairobi. The rumours are that she was faithless, careless, but her husband Justin, a reserved, garden-loving British diplomat, refuses to believe them. As he sets out to discover what really happened to Tessa, he unearths a conspiracy more disturbing, and more deadly, than he could ever have imagined. A blistering exposé of global corruption, The Constant Gardener is also the moving portrayal of a man searching for justice for the woman he has barely had time to love.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and as a film.

Call for the dead / Le Carré, John
“After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the death, he begins his own investigation, meeting Fennan’s widow to find out what led him to such desperation. On the very day Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans – and their agents – know more about this man’s death than the Circus previously imagined?Le Carre’s first book, Call for the Dead, introduced the tenacious and retiring spy George Smiley in a gripping tale of espionage and deceit.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The night manager / Le Carré, John
“A classic thriller, now repackaged in hardcover. Jonathan Pine agrees to stand up and be counted in the fight against a heart of darkness – the unholy alliance between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. From the cliffs of west Cornwall via the Caribbean to the post-Noriega Panama, Pine chases his quarry – the worst man in the world.” (Catalogue) Also available as a DVD.

Absolute friends / Le Carré, John
” The friends of Absolute Friends are Ted Mundy, a British soldier’s son born in 1947 in a shining new independent Pakistan, and Sasha, refugee son of an East German Lutheran pastor and his wife who have sought sanctuary in the West. The two men meet first as students in riot-torn West Berlin of the late Sixties, again in the grimy looking-glass of Cold War espionage and, most terribly, in today’s unipolar world of terror, counter-terror and the war of lies.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A legacy of spies / Le Carré, John
“Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany, when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy / Le Carré, John
“Smiley and his people are facing a remarkable challenge: a mole – a soviet double agent – who has burrowed his way in and up to the highest level of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of their vital operations and their best networks. The mole is one of their own kind. But which one? His people are full-bodied, believable individuals, the minor characters as vivid as the main cast.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and a DVD.