High Plains Drifter

Val Blows In - Val Bennett & The Upsetters
Boss - Count Sticky & The Upsetters
High Plains Drifter - The Upsetters
Its Growing - Busty Brown & The Upsetters
The Man With No Name - The Upsetters
Don't Want To Lose You - The Upsetters
What's Wrong With You - Bleechers
What A Botheration (Pan Mix) - The Mellotones
He Don't Love You - The Silvertones
Next To You - Dave Barker & The Upsetters
Sitting And Waiting - Dave Barker & The Upsetters
Awake - The Ethiopians
Amigo - The Upsetters
Ain't No Love - Jimmy & The Inspirations
Rockfort Psychedelion - Count Sticky & The Upsetters
A Big Joke - Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters
Buttoo Girl - The Inspirations
Thanks We Get - The Versatiles
Iniquity Workers - The Faithful Brothers
Rub Up Festival '71 - Junior Byles & The Righteous Upsetters

The years 1968 to 1973 were truly extraordinary for Lee Perry: He founded his own Upsetter imprint, had UK Top 5 chart success, toured the UK & Europe, and released a staggering 280 plus singles and over twenty albums. High Plains Drifter rides in with saddle bags of lost musical gems from these creative years.

At the start of the 1960s Lee Perry was new to the music business. He began at Studio One recording sides that drew heavily on US R&B, Jamaican folk music had already showed his love of the sexually charged stanzas with songs like Roast Duck or Dr Dick. Since leaving Dodd's set up he had continued to record sides as an artist but had been learning the production side of the business including stints at WIRL and Joe Gibbs, as well as the obscure Deltone label. Perry's move into production was not only commercially successful and prodigious but saw his music become a key element in the burgeoning skinhead scene in the UK: His 'Tighten Up' (Inspirations) was used to name a series of cheap compilations that helped spread reggae across the working class in many urban cities & towns - the cheesecake covers with semi-naked women helped! Tracks like 'Live Injection' became anthemic, as the orange & white UK 'Upsetter' imprint became iconic in the UKs youth culture.

Perry's first single on his own imprint was 'People Funny Boy', which is held by many to be the first ever single with a 'reggae' beat, with its 'Chuck Chuck' beat as opposed to earlier 'Ska' or 'Rocksteady' beats. Also during these years The Upsetter and Bob Marley created 'Small Axe', 'Duppy Conqueror' and 'Sun Is Shining'. The rhythm only album, 'Upsetter Revolution Rhythm', was the world's first album that featured just rhythms of existing tracks (Bob Marley's 'Soul revolution Pt. II') - of course it proved to be the genesis of Dub.

From his beginnings as an artist Scratch drew from a range of influences - both musical and cultural but it was his desire to push musical boundaries that set him apart from other Reggae producers and artists. Musically Scratch not only used traditional Jamaican music but had a love of US R&B that could be picked up from US based radio stations and heard at Sounds on 78s. Perry loved to reference street culture in his productions and thus Westerns figured strongly in his musical mix in the years covered by High Plains Drifter, as Spaghetti Westerns were extremely popular in down town Kingston with screenings having bands like the Upsetters, opening the show. Later when Kung Fu films became the craze, Perry released a batch of singles and albums, inspired by the genre. It was Perry's passion for Spaghetti Westerns that gave birth to his UK Top 5 'Return To Django' as well both the fine 'Val Blows In' and the eponymous 'High Plains Drifter'. Val's R&B influenced horns were a trade mark on many of Perry's early productions and here he's given full reign on this cut of Sir Lord Comics classic 'Django Shoots First' ('Bronco' in the UK). Our title track puts you right in Sergio Leone territory - eyes blinking from the scorching sun. 'Amigo' is a cut of 'Sipreano' with a lovely Perry cod spaghetti western intro.

Always pushing boundaries Scratch worked with, ex-mento star, Count Sticky who provided 'Jive-talking' inspired intros and exultations over Perry's sharp rhythms. Of course the word 'Boss' has recently resurfaced in the talk of the new generation of music makers... In what was, in 1968, another global first we present an alternate mix of the Mellotones 'What A Botheration' - Perry uses the pans, much as he did in 'Handy Cap', to provide a new feel to an existing piece of work. Alternate mixes were to become one of Perry's production trade marks at his fabled Black Ark studio and of course are now an everyday part of music marketing.

High Plains Drifter delivers a fine pair of early songs of faith and consciousness: 'Iniquity Workers' and 'Awake' both of which also resonate with the deep spiritual beliefs. By 1975 Perry's Black Ark studio stood as a cultural centre for Rasta and songs like these became common place as 'Sufferers' recorded their songs, with Old Testament like certainty. These lost nuggets by the obscure Faithful Brothers and the Ethiopians sit along side Junior Byles' 'A Place Called Africa' as signposts to the changing spiritual and cultural identity of many ghetto dwellers.

Also famed for reusing his own rhythm's Perry revisits 'Prisoner Of Love' ('Butto Girl' - a girl who thinks she's all that but is actually behind the fashion and is a bit common), 'Ain't No Love' (Don't Want To Lose You') and Busty Brown 'It's Growing' was reused as the basis of 'Return Of The Super Ape' almost a decade later. Conversely 'The Thanks We Get' is the first of three times that Perry recorded the song, twice with the Versatiles & once with erstwhile Versatiles member, Junior Byles.

Perry communicated with people through his productions: the wonderfully playful 'Big Joke' and yes he used one of those laughing bags you used to get from joke shops. I'm sure that 'Big Joke' uses the 'Duppy Conqueror' rhythm as it was a musical missile to Bob's head - they had recently had a falling out over the 'Soul Revolution' album being licensed to the Pottingers by Scratch. Another short conversation was with the Festival Song Competition, which had become a major, mainstream event. Previous winners such as Toots & The Maytals ('Bam Bam' & 'Sweet & Dandy') had become big stars in part thanks to this success. In 1971 Perry entered 'Rub Up Festival '71', but with its lyric 'Tom drunk and is feeling irie and want a girl who is fat & juicy' - the track was immediately banned! In 1972 Perry's 'Da DA' (Junior Byles again) came third in the contest.

Perry's love of Soul comes to the fore via Dave Barker classic Soul shouter styling's on 'Next To You' and 'He Don't Love You' (Silvertones) is a cover of the Jerry Butler original, (tracks like these saw Delroy Denton become Delroy Butler). 'Sitting & Waiting' is a cover of a 1950's US R&B track from Clavin Boze and would have been played at sounds in Perry's younger days. Perry continued to blend Soul and R&B into his developing reggae sound soul right up until the Black Ark closed its doors and indeed those productions are seen as one of the major influences in the development of 'Lovers Rock' reggae.

This album pulls together undocumented Jamaican singles (& one dub plate) that beautifully showcase all these influences and Perry's development as a producer. It was his desire to push musical boundaries that set him apart from other Reggae producers.

Lee Scratch Perry - The PRODUCER - had rode into town as The Upsetter - of the Beat, the Groove, the Mix, the Vibe and the Rhythm. He was a High Plains Drifter 'fe true.

Jeremy Collingwood

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