Another must have book for any Reggae library.
David Katz has written a brilliant book about Lee Scratch Perry, but what makes this different is that it was written with the co-operation of Lee Perry and Katz gets previously unprecendented access to Lee Perry and his family, which throws up some fascinating interviews, stories, anecdotes, and conundrums.
In reggae music, only Bob Marley rivals Lee “Scratch” Perry in importance. Scratch collaborated on some of the Wailers’ best early stuff, and indeed, Marley’s “career was largely shaped by creative interaction with Perry.” Katz spent years sifting Perry’s true story from the legends about him. Confusion about his birth date is to be expected, for public record keeping has not been a high priority in Jamaica, but Perry further muddled matters by claiming to hail from Jupiter, the sky, and Africa, as well. And then, “it is worth noting that the regular use of ganja . . . result[s] in short- and long-term memory loss.” Ganja is, of course, a leitmotif of Perry’s biography, and fans of Timothy White’s Bob Marley book, Catch a Fire (rev. ed., 1995), will appreciate Katz’s further exploration of the ganja-permeated world of reggae. Collections serving world music and pop music fans should consider this piece of reggae history absolutely essential. Mike Tribby
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Arguably the most influential force in Jamaican music, Lee Perry brought Bob Marley to international stardom and has since collaborated with artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, The Clash and The Beastie Boys. The book delves behind the myth of Perry to give a fuller examination of his life and work through extensive interviews with family members, fellow artists, friends, lovers, enemies, as well as the man himself to present a complex portrait of a unique soul driven by unseen spiritual forces. This revised edition contains new information on Perry’s recent years, including his Grammy Award and cessation of herb smoking. The text has been thoroughly revised, making the new edition a more factually accurate and greatly improved read.
About the Author
David Katz has written about the sounds and culture of Jamaica since 1984. His work has appeared in The Guardian, MOJO, Uncut and The Wire. He has annotated CDs for several record labels and contributed to The Rough Guide to Reggae. He is also a musician, broadcaster and photographer. Originally from San Francisco, he currently lives in London.
Quote form the author David Katz:
“If you’re gonna ask me do I think Scratch is mad – it’s not really a word that I would use. I think it is a great shame that partly the way that Scratch has had this revival of interest in his career is because he’s being portrayed as this kind of jolly nutter. To me, never mind about the peculiar behavior – OK, it’s interesting to a degree – but just listen to the music and be amazed. That’s where the real genius lies.”
Where to buy ‘People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’ by David Katz:
Best prices can be found at Amazon.