Dub pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry celebrates the 45th anniversary of Blackboard Jungle Dub | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Dub pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry celebrates the 45th anniversary of Blackboard Jungle Dub


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There are at least three editions of the album Blackboard Jungle Dub by reggae provocateur Lee “Scratch” Perry, each one with a different track listing (and sometimes a different title). It’s arguably the world’s first dub album, but whether that distinction is accurate or not, it does serve to delineate Perry’s exploration of a recording studio’s possibilities. Four years after the release of the album’s earliest incarnation, 1973’s Upsetters 14 Dub Black Board Jungle, the Jamaican producer scaled even greater technical heights when he helmed the sessions for the Congos’ Heart of the Congos, setting the vocal trio within a sonic context that reached well beyond reggae, dub, and R&B to approach some sort of billowing psychedelic apex. The first edition of Black Board included the track “Kaya Skank” (later “Sin Semilla Kaya Dub”), a version of a cut Bob Marley had recorded as early as 1971 and that in 1978 landed on Marley’s tenth album, Kaya. Perry’s artistic largesse was a catalyst for Marley’s stardom, and more than four decades later, the producer and vocalist continues to engage new generations of devotees. For this tour, which celebrates the 45th anniversary of Black Board, the 84-year-old Perry is backed by Brooklyn’s Subatomic Sound System, a group of mostly younger performers and veteran percussionist Larry McDonald, who’s provided backing for uncountable Jamaican linchpins as well as luminaries such as Gil Scott-Heron.   v

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