I Am The Upsetter – Lee Perry

Let’s be honest. Middle aged white guys listening to reggae is a humongous cliche. It’s been parodied brilliantly in the hugely under rated sit com Phone Shop to absolute perfection. One of the major reasons it’s the thing it is, is The Clash. They did such a great job of bridging the gap between the original skinhead moonstomp influence of Trojan records and the import of Jamaican street style that is seemed a natural fit along side the fury of punk.

I’m relatively sure I wouldn’t know who Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is if Joe Strummer hadn’t told me. Not that I ever met Joe Strummer. But you know what I mean.

And so it came to pass that Dub and Punk become forever intertwined. This mixing of styles as they evolved did us all a favour. Punks had something they could grow up with, it drew the lines between righteous anger and trouble makers beautifully. Easy angry is so much more powerful than just angry. I’m not going to be so clumsy as to slip an ‘Irie’ in there.

Now if punk could mix with dub, black with white, then surely anything could mix with anything? Almost. I’m not blaming Lee Perry or Joe Strummer for Bluegrass Metal Core.

So the sound systems of London and dance halls of Jamaica have a common ground, just like they had a common people. Lee Perry never went Punk. It came to him. Through his Dub Scratch and The Upsetter sound, Lee Perry went on to become a name that can still pack a festival crowd in front of almost any stage, almost anywhere in the world. This really was a tiny acorn of a scene back in 1968. I can’t imagine a summer without it 60 years later.

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