Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry Documentary Debuts, Adrian Sherwood-Produced Album Coming
- Words: Tomas Palermo
The artist who sang mystically about “Roast Fish And Cornbread” and declared on record that “I Am A Madman,” will soon see his life on celluloid as The Upsetter: The Life & Music of Lee 'Scratch' Perry premiers at the South By Southwest Film Festival this weekend.
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s tumultuous reggae career stretches over five decades, beginning in the early 1960s and continuing to the present day. Perry recorded his own rocksteady and ska hits, produced Bob Marley’s early '70s material, and produced dozens of Jamaica’s most important artists, from Heptones and Junior Murvin to Max Romeo and The Congos. Both his own music and recorded works with other artists retain Perry’s indelible stamp: a loose, hazy sound that’s infused with militant, visionary Rasta spirituality and ganja-fueled dreamlike qualities.
The Beastie Boys paid tribute to Perry in their magazine Grand Royale’s second issue, and throughout the years, Scratch has intrigued artists and tastemakers alike, including Island Record’s Chris Blackwell (who signed Perry for several albums), and On-U Sound’s Adrian Sherwood (who is releasing Perry’s next album). Although excellent books such as David Katz' essential People Funny Boy have previously provided insight on Perry’s genius, a documentary film is long overdue.
The Upsetter: The Life & Music of Lee 'Scratch' Perry has its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival Friday, March 7 in Austin, TX. Filmmakers Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough will be in attendance for the showing. The Upsetter charts 70 years in the life of the legendary singer, songwriter, producer, poet, painter, genius, and madman Lee “Scratch” Perry. Seven years in the making, the film is recounted in Perry’s own words through an exclusive interview with the notoriously reclusive artist, filmed at his remote hideout in Switzerland in 2006 by Higbee and Lough.
Upsetter covers Perry’s difficult and at times bizarre career, which has included burning down his own studio and scatological episodes at others. Recently, Dub Syndicate and On-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood announced that he’d release Perry’s next album in 2008, which he describes on his MySpace page as “quite possibly the best Lee Perry vocal album for over 25 years.”
The Upsetter Screening Times
03/07 Austin, TX: Alamo Ritz 1, 9:00 PM (world premiere) SXSW Film Fest
03/11 Austin, TX: Alamo Ritz 1, 6:30 PM, SXSW Film Fest
03/13 Austin, TX: The Paramount. 6:45 PM, SXSW Music Fest
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