Saturday, June 28, 2008

Eye Is The Upsetter

Lee Scratch Perry is playing Harbourfront in a free show on Monday evening. Should be a great time. Even when I saw him last, some 10 years ago, he wasn't at the peak of his powers, but he's one of those rare individuals who captivates an audience with his presence alone.

In the cover story I wrote for this week's Eye Magazine, I could have gone any number of different places, but my instructions were to focus on his forthcoming album. This was actually a relief, since most of the angles on the Scratch story - the eccentricity, his Afro-Futurism, his chronology - have been done before in much greater detail. On that score, talking with Andrew WK was an unexpected pleasure. I don't know much of his work - which is somewhat different than what he's doing with Perry - but he was polite and enthusiastic in conversation.

Mr. Perry was also a better interview than I expected. I was actually dreading the interview (not the good kind of dread), fearing I'd get some entertaining quotes but little of substance. Though I didn't end up using much of it in the article, Perry had very interesting things to say about his own work, his relationship to dub and, surprisingly, his currently charitable feelings about the old "vampire" himself, former Island Records boss Chris Blackwell. Dig this quote; you veteran Perry fans won't believe it:

"Well he had the best of my material (up to that point in my career). He had the best set of things of what I was doing at that time, and he was a very good friend. But after we had the album Roast Fish Collie Weed And Corn Bread he did not like it too much. But I still have respect for him as a good person, but I was a little bit mad that he didn’t like that album too much. (I was mad at him for a while) but I got over it, don’t forget that. I said bad things about him “Chris Blackwell is a vampire, he killed bob Marley and used the Wailers”, (laughing) did you ever hear that? But I forgive him for now because he did not understand the album, it was too early. Some of the beats were completely different, it wasn’t exactly reggae, it was experimental. It was too early for his tastes. But I think he’s a great man."

Don't miss the H-Front show, it'll be a highlight of the summer.

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