PRESSURE SOUNDS DROPS ALBUM OF LOST BLACK ARK MIXES AND DUBLATES
1976 proved to be a defining year for Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. A deal with Island Records meant that his 3 albums and a dozen singles received the marketing and promotion from the coolest label in the mainstream UK/US markets. Perry himself was in creative overdrive: he used Island’s advances to buy the latest studio technology for the young Black Ark Studio which enabled him to continually develop his production signatures.
Now, some 37 years later, Pressure Sounds’ Roaring Lion collection delivers unknown tunes and mixes from that crucial year. Sixteen tracks of thunderous mixing by the Upsetter at his very best. Eleven of the tracks come from one master tape that has been laying on a shelf for 30 odd years. The other 5 tracks are made up of dub plates and alternate takes of previously released tracks.
Roaring Lion offers a unique snap-shot of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s creative vibrations as producer and re-mixer, to the rising cultural religion of Rasta. The Black Ark was truly peaking in the red as he revved himself to full throttle and created some of the finest work of his unparalleled career.
Featured on the album is an unreleased Augustus Pablo collaboration titled “Pride” as well as the original dub plate mix for Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic.”
Lee Perry And His Upsetters Roaring Lion Track Listing:
1. Truths and Rights – Jah Lion & The Upsetters (previously unreleased) 2. Upsetters Shuffle – The Upsetters (unreleased Dub plate mix) 3. Roaring Lion – Jah Lion & The Upsetters (previously unreleased) 4. Pride – Augustus Pablo and the Upsetters (previously unreleased) 5. Loco Negril – Althea and Donna 6. Big Gal Sally – The Upsetters (unreleased mix) 7. Generation From Creation – Jah Lion & The Upsetters (previously unreleased) 8. Big Boy Wally – The Upsetters (unreleased mix) 9. Beat Down Comrade Man – Junior Byles & The Upsetters (previously unreleased Dub plate) 10. Stand and Look – The Fantels (unreleased mix) 11. Rocky Road Dub – The Upsetters (previously unreleased) 12. Natural Mystic – Bob Marley & The Upsetters (unreleased original Upsetter Dub plate Mix) 13. Anasawa Dub – The Upsetters (unreleased mix) 14. Dub Dyon – The Upsetters (unreleased mix) 15. Emotional Dub – The Upsetters (unreleased mix) 16. Dub Stand – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)
Nor Cal legends Phone Bill appear in this 33 years ahead complete Midnight Dread program and play twelve top ranking/scorching and scarce live tracks, including three when they backed The Mighty Diamonds in their local debut June 5th 1980 at the Coconut Grove in Santa Cruz. The bulk of the Phone Bill selections are from an amazing live show in Monterey, California August 2nd 1980 when they presented their massive ‘review style’ production in full flower. Two of Phone Bill’s principals, leader Kuumba Rhymer from Ghana and yardie vocalist John Cornelius (aka Raskidu or Ras Kiddus) are interviewed and speak on the history of roots reggae & Jamaican musicians living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s. Highlighted are a mighty version of Bob Marley’s “Happiness (Hurting Inside)” and “Battles Never Done” both featuring the top flight vocals of ‘Phone Bill’s Daughters’. The week’s Reggae Calendar includes a double bill of Burning Spear & The Titans live at The Old Waldorf in San Francisco, The English Beat & Talking Heads at Zellerbach Auditorium across the bay on the campus at UC Berkeley and elsewhere, as well as Earl Zero’s ‘final repeat command performance’ at Berkeley Square (with KTIM DJs Doug Wendt and David Bassin) before Z leaves on tour. M Al’s reggae sound studio in Oakland unveils their first album, Session’s SEE UP AZEEM at the end of the show. Hear these and many more outstanding ripples of reggaemylitis infecting the bay music scene. Here’s a 1985 photo taken in Japan of The Mighty Diamonds (Tabby, Bunny, & Judge) with their manager Turk Arsenault of Strictly Rockers International, who was determined to break the group world-wide:
Ras Kiddus (above) does some spontaneous voice-overs on a couple tracks. Other members of his then backing group Phone Bill besides founder Kuumba include Tanya Cotton, Kim, Brett & Bruce Harmon, Larry Batiste, Clay Tovan, Ihinza, Del on git, Chris on trumpet and Maxi Bowman on keyboards. Joe Higgs also gets a couple plays as he’s scheduled to appear with Phone Bill the next month. Behind the scenes Midnight Dread and others are reeling from the news parlayed by Roger Steffens that week that Bob Marley has taken ill and may only have days to live so “Redemption Song” is played in hopes such rumors prove false. There is some problem with the KTIM MD 120 minute aircheck master as the studio cassette recorder gets all jiggy on part of side one with some spooky slip slackin’ random take-up distortion on a couple tracks (intermittent mainly between the 30 and 44 minute or so marks) that kinds of adds to the approaching October pre-Halloween flavor. Don Weir’s Music City has a weird ad mentioning Iran’s Ayatollah reminding us of the looming Reagan/Carter Presidential election just weeks away. Here’s a couple very rare Bay Area posters from the era including an African-American produced ‘Olufunmi Presents’ poster illustrating the strong 1980 live show connection between punk and reggae in a series of legendary presentations at the American Indian Center in San Francisco:
plus this historic flyer for Phone Bill’s ground-breaking appearance at S.F.’s Mission High School which really forwarded the reggae vibe to the teenage youth of the day:
Like A Tale of Two Cities opens ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. On the day Stevie Wonder’s brilliant new single from his upcoming album HOTTER THAN JULY was breaking all over the radio & dance clubs Bob Marley fell ill while jogging in NYC. It was September 21st 1980. Unbeknownst to everyone but Marley’s close inner circle at first within a couple weeks many more were hearing the rumors Bob may be dead within days. No one wanted to believe it but to those who were there it was ultra real. The hoped for Wonder/Marley tour with encores of both “Masterblaster” & “Jammin” mashed-up inna duet style remains the stuff of dreams. Six weeks later Ronald Wilson Reagan (666 = the # of letters in each of his names) would be elected President and soon preside over the greatest u-turn in working man politricks in many generations. A month after that John Lennon lay slain in the streets of New York. Marley stayed alive for just five months after that. Midnight Dread begins with the prescient dread of Big Youth portending more mayhem with madness in the Caribbean spreadin’ world-wide fever stylee. Repression & reactionary days loomin’, doomin’ progress & love among the people:
Later in this 33 years ahead radio show, after the Masterblaster debut seemingly helps knock the transmitter silly, Earl Zero performs two killer tracks live in San Francisco at The Back Door followed by two deep dubs from Scientist & King Tubby. Along the way Desi Roots re-does “Greenfields” herbalistically in a massive foot-long forty-five, Nina Hagen sparks an “African Reggae” ten inch ep with her transcendent yo-dels, The Cimarons remind that the idle days of free spending are gone like the sand upon the wind while “Rooting For A Cause”, Joe Higgs thinks of “The Moment” as do many others including Don Drummond, The Bases, The Dub Specialist, & Prince Fari. The I-Threes infer “Many Are Called” & some ask ‘chosen for what?’, so Bob Marley insists “in this oh sweet life, It’s life, It’s life, It’s life! Why do you look so sad & forsaken?” If only we could freeze time & stop these things dread in their tracks. As Master Wonder sings so heartily, “Marley’s hot on the box”:
33 years ahead sounds from sun up to sundown as Midnight Dread plays Desmond in the marketplace along with enough rock steady and one of the last great tracks ever recorded at Lee Perry’s Black Ark Washington Garden studios in Jamaica possibly portending its coming demise, the haunting cry of the perpetrated “Who Killed The Chicken”, final cow moans and all. Life goes on with life savers from John, Paul, George & Ringo as Desmond puts on his pretty face with an all-time “More We Live” medley others chime in with “That’s Life” & its toast “Facts Of Life” before Bob Andy attacks “Life” with vital vigor “so if we never use the brain, then only carcass would remain” amidst some of reggae’s most profound lyrics ever. Toots shines all kinda light with sun, moon, & star beams a plenty into Burning Spear callin’ on you whenever “The Sun” goes down. A chilling classic “Speak The Truth” cauterizes the wounds by combining the amazing talents of Ranking Reuben with the Daughters of Negus & The Sons of Jah. A quick sidetrack into the rock news of the day includes more examples of the genre’s decline & decadence just as John Lennon returns from years of governmental repression disguised as domesticity while Patty Hearst goes Surf Punks with Jack Nicholson & Mick Jagger, all potential ‘Best Dressed Chickens In Town’ inna Jollywood Babylon.
Then it’s rockin’ steady judgment with The Defenders setting them free along with some skinhead stompin’ and what smells like “Teenage Ska” with Baba Brooks & band. Nicky Thomas live from a Trojan Reggae Party does an especially scorchin’ version at the stroke of 12 am of Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” joined with Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” slippin’ into rockin’ it with I and I on the trains that come, choo choo steady, and then climb their way to Montreal’s World Exposition in 1967. All aboard. Your ticket to ride is powerfully pre-punched!
Triumphantly back on the air 2 weeks after gloom hung over the last program Midnight Dread soldiers on, invigorated by an earlier time slot and a seemingly never ending supply of crucial new roots music plus fresh wrapped dub, ska & rock steady. Midnight is now the actual center of the show and therefore takes on an even dreader than dread position. Mikey Dread has just issued his masterpiece World War III which gets plenty play for decades and kingdom come. Still steamin’ Bob Marley’s Uprising “Could You Be Loved’ gets its first ever MD spin, Desmond Dekker gets Rumored, a Prince gets natural wild radio mixin’, I Roy goes with his given name Roy Reid, Big Youth deeply ruminates on New York City, USA, UK & beyond, & Light Of Saba create perfection with “Words Of Wisdom”. “Israel Stylee” off Mikey Dread’s World War III booms atomic sound barriers in warning of musical attack:
Strictly Rockers, Crisp Like Crackers, In California, In Mississippi, In Canada, Scat & Spread out all over the world: