This one was like 90% done for about a month, but those last little adjustments proved difficult for some reason. I think it’s right now. I wouldn’t say perfect, because that’s not a thing, but I find it quite satisfying.
Life Is an Experiment (excerpt 1) New Age Doom and Lee “Scratch” Perry
LSP’s last recording project was a collaboration with the fetchingly named Canadian experimental combo New Age Doom. It seems likely that they were never in the same place at the same time; Scratch already sounds like a voice broadcasting from another dimension, and the soundscapes crafted around it are sometimes maddeningly formless. But since it is his last statement as a resident of Earth, this is worth a listen.
In These Times Errol Walker
“BIG UP TUNE AWESOME VERSION BY ERROL WALKER, 1977 ….( LOVE THE SUMMER TIME TRACK DEFINITELY ONE OF ME TOP TUNES) BUT THIS VERSION BOOM WICKED ESPECIALLY BEING A LEE PERRY PRODUCTION!! TOP CLASS MEANINGFUL SONG!” —YouTube commenter Alan Townson
Time Tough Toots & the Maytals
Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert (December 8, 1942 – September 11, 2020) was a force of nature. His special power was to take all life’s problems and turn them into something indescribably joyful. He is missed.
Such Is Life Lord Creator
“As his imperious name suggests, Lord Creator began his career as a calypso singer. Some time in the mid- to late 50s he arrived in Jamaica, just as the music scene was starting to take off. Lord Creator’s smooth, honeyed tones were not ideal for the raucous jump to R&B soon to emerge from ska, but as a big band crooner in Jamaica, he had no equal. ‘Evening News’ (1959) was his first huge hit, and it was a song to which he returned at several points during his career…. In 1969, he teamed up with producer Clancy Eccles and recorded the single ‘Kingston Town,’ perhaps the finest sentimental reggae record ever released. By this time, Creator was in financial trouble and a week after recording the record, he borrowed $30 from Eccles. A couple of months later, Eccles spotted Creator in a Kingston street and the singer ran off. Eventually, Eccles caught him, and Creator immediately began to make excuses for not paying back the money he owed; Eccles explained that he owed Creator $1, 000 in royalties for ‘Kingston Town.’ The record sold thousands of copies in Britain without ever making the charts. During the 70s, Lord Creator’s croon became obsolete in a reggae music obsessed with roots, Rasta and heavy dub. He did record one powerful single in 1977… a new version of a 1967 single, ‘Such Is Life.’” —Allmusic.com
Stop That Train The Wailers
I think that this song expresses Peter Tosh’s sense of frustration with his position in the Wailers, where he always had to take a back seat to Bob. There’s a scene in the documentary Red X: Stepping Razor where Tosh snarls, “Bob Marley was my student.” Whether that’s true or not, certainly the Wailers — like the late-period Beatles — just had too many auteurs for one band to contain them.
Brohter Love Henrick Nicholson
I don’t know much about this song, which appeared on the 2021 compilation Black Art from the Black Ark, except that as far as I can tell the apparent typo “Brohter” is actually intentional. Probably it has some secret Rasta meaning that I’m unaware of. Killer tune, anyway.
New Style Augustus Pablo
I had reached an impasse on this mix when I randomly heard this on the radio, and lo and behold, it mixes perfectly into the next bit. It’s always a pleasure to honor those little nudges from Jah when possible.
Life Is an Experiment (excerpt 2) New Age Doom and Lee “Scratch” Perry
One Step Forward Max Romeo
I’m a bit confused by the fact that the top YouTube result for this song mixes it with (looped and repetitive) footage from the movie Rockers; it does not appear on the soundtrack. But the combination works fairly well nonetheless.
So Cold Without You Keith Hudson
”Whether you know him as The Dark Prince Of Reggae, the Ghetto Dentist or just plain Keith, the legendary artist and producer Keith Hudson created some of the most idiosyncratic, innovative and atmospheric reggae that ever came out of Jamaica.” —Cherry Red Records bio
Double Wine The Upsetters
This is the dub version of a song by Leo Graham called “Want a Wine.” I thought that Rastas weren’t supposed to drink alcohol, but then again, Buddhist priests aren’t either.
Aux Armes et Caetera Serge Gainsbourg
“The title track [of Gainsbourg’s Aux Armes et Caetera album] is a reggae adaptation of ‘La Marseillaise’ the French national anthem. Soon after the song’s first appearance on television on April 1, 1979 (a controversial appearance followed as the recording was perceived by some as an insult to the French Republic), it became a big success. Gainsbourg received death threats… critics did not like that the original text was truncated, half of the chorus line (including the most military-oriented section of the song) being edited out…. In 1981, Gainsbourg purchased the original manuscript of ‘La Marseillaise’ at an auction, which was signed by the composer. He then showed critics that his version was, in fact, closer to the original than any other recorded version as the manuscript clearly shows the words ‘Aux armes et cætera…” for the chorus as author Rouget de l’Isle did not bother writing the full chorus each time, preferring to shorten it with the word etc.” —Wikipedia
Dyon Anasawa The Upsetters Featuring Full Experience
All attempts to find out what the title of this song (which is also the only lyric) means, or even what language it’s in, have been fruitless. Such is life.
Life Is an Experiment (excerpt 3) New Age Doom and Lee “Scratch” Perry
Dubismo (excerpt) Chico Science & Nação Zumbi
“Francisco de Assis França (March 13, 1966 – February 2, 1997), better known as Chico Science, was a Brazilian singer and composer and one of the founders of the manguebeat cultural movement. He died in a car accident in 1997 in Recife, Pernambuco, at the age of 30…. At the time of his death, The New York Times said he was ‘widely hailed as the future of Brazilian music.’ The Governor of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco declared three days of mourning.” —Wikipedia
Corn Fish Dub Lee Perry & the Upsetters
Back in the day you could ask Scratch what he had for lunch, and you’d get something like this.
The Fish and the Alley of Destruction Johnny Nash
This opaquely philosophical number was the B-side of Nash’s 1972 single of the Bob Marley–written “Guava Jelly,” and also appeared on the original pressings of his I Can See Clearly Now album (it was later removed in favor of the far less cosmic “Cream Puff”). I’m not 100% sure it technically qualifies as reggae, but it does appear on the Nash compilation The Reggae Collection, and that’s good enough for me.