The Upsetters With Lee Perry And Friends – Build The Ark

by Sep 30, 2021Artist, Reviews

The Upsetters With Lee Perry And Friends - Build The Ark
Lee "Scratch" Perry (Photo: Stephen Cooper)

Release Info

The Upsetters With Lee Perry And Friends – Build The Ark

Label:  Music On Vinyl | Format: 3LP | Street date: October 1, 2021 | Website label |

Side A
1. Leo Graham – My Little Sandra
2. The Upsetters – Dubbing Sandra
3. Sharon Isaacs – Feelings
4. The Upsetters – Feelings (Version)
5. Winston Heywood – Long Long Time
6. The Upsetters – Long Time Dub

Side B
1. Junior Dread – A Wah Dat
2. The Upsetters – Dub Dat
3. Lee Perry – White Belly Rat
4. The Upsetters – Judas De White Belly Rat
5. Jah Lloyd – White Belly Rat

Side C
1. Eric Donaldson – Freedom Street
2. The Upsetters – Freedom Dub
3. Shaumark & Robinson – Peace & Love
4. The Upsetters – Peace A Dub
5. Sons Of Light – Land Of Love
6. The Upsetters – Land Of Dub

Side D
1. The Meditations – Think So
2. The Upsetters – Dub So
3. Junior Murvin – Cross Over
4. The Upsetters – Cross Over Dub
5. The Congos – At The Feast

Side E
1. Debra Keese & The Black Five – Travelling
2. The Upsetters – Nyambie Dub
3. Peter & Paul Lewis – Ethiopian Land
4. The Upsetters – Landmark Dub
5. Lord Sassafrass – Green Bay Incident
6. The Upsetters – Green Bay Version

Side F
1. The Shadows – Brother Noah
2. The Upsetters – Noah Dub
3. Junior Ainsworth – Thanks And Praise
4. The Upsetters – Dub & Praise
5. Danny Hensworth – Mr Money Man
6. The Upsetters – Dub Money

Lee Perry

Rainford Hugh Perry, better known as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (or Pipecock Jackson, The Gong, Upsetter), is one of the most important and influential figures in the history of Jamaican popular music. Only very few other names have had such a strong appeal on a worldwide level than this engineer, producer, songwriter, entertainer, and artist. He made his initial impact performing at Studio One in the ska era, was instrumental in Joe Gibbs’ early success, and made radical impressions with the most innovative work of Bob Marley & The Wailers. With his studio band the Upsetters he released just over 100 singles between 1969 and 1974 by artists such as Dave Barker, Dennis Alcapone, The Stingers, Neville Hinds, Leo Graham, Big Youth, Junior Byles, U Roy, Dillinger, and many more.

In 1974, Perry opened his own studio, the Black Ark, in his back yard at Washington Gardens, Kingston, to have more control over his productions. Not hindered by the somewhat rudimentary set-up and its basic equipment, Lee Perry found himself building top-notch productions, known for their creative production and recording techniques. People started to call him a genius, while others claimed that he was certifiably insane, a madman. However, anyone interested in reggae music has to admit that he helped shape the sound of dub and sound effects. He made reggae music such a powerful part of the pop music world due to producing some of the most influential acts in reggae history including Bob Marley & The Wailers and the Congos to name but two. At the end of the 1970s, he burned the studio to the ground. This event, preceded by increasingly bizarre and erratic behavior, ended an era of creativity and production highlights. In the 1980’s he kept a low profile, while the world re-discovered the sheer quality and brilliance of his music. The 1990s was a prolific period, collaborating with a diversity of musicians and producers. Although already in his 80s, he kept recording and touring all over the globe. August 29, 2021, he set on his final tour to Zion.

Music On Vinyl

The Dutch vinyl only (high quality 180g LP’s and 7# pressings) reissue label earned respect in the reggae scene with superb vinyl reissues of classic albums. Ini Kamoze’s debut set Ini Kamoze, Jezebel by Justin Hinds and The Dominoes, and several Lee Perry produced sets, such as Cloak & Dagger, Return Of Django, Eastwood Rides Again, Jah Lion’s Colombia Colly, and George Faith’s extraordinary set To Be A Lover.
MOV’s current tour de force is the reissue of the 3LP set Build The Ark. It was initially released in 1990 by Trojan Records and is now available as a limited edition of 2000 individually numbered copies on orange-colored vinyl. The 3LP album is re-packaged in a heavyweight 7.5 mm sleeve and contains 3 printed inner sleeves.

LP 1

Side one opens with a love song -My Little Sandra- from Leo Graham, a former member of the group The Bleechers. Although the tune and dub are listed as separate songs on the cover, it is a long mix of more than 13 minutes of enjoyment! Leo Graham is by the way the father of roots singer Daweh Congo. Very little is known about Sharon Isaacs. Her contribution is a cover version of the 1970s pop hit Feelings by Morris Albert. While her performance isn’t bad, we’d rather have pulled out another song from Perry’s archives. We are more satisfied with the next track. Long Long Time by Winston Heywood, another unknown Jamaican talent responsible for a little gem, supported by a simple, but effective riddim.
Side two is particularly strong, especially because of the three versions of White Belly Rat. According to some sources, it’s a covert attack on producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. Jah Lloyd aka Jah Lion, The Black Lion of Judah, and Jah Ali, closes side two with his top-notch version. Check out the review of his album Colombia Colly, a quintessential Perry production of the time, here. No info about Junior Dread who released a few sides on the Upsetters label in the mid-1970s. His 1976 tune, Ah Wah Dat, is no less than a 100% certified killer tune, straight to Santa Claus’ face.

LP 2

Side three opens with Eric Donaldson, best known for Cherry Oh Baby, the 1971 Jamaican Festival Song Competition song, and winner of the competition. Freedom Street, from 1977, displays Eric his rootsy side. Next comes Shaumark & Robinson with Peace & Love. Robinson is singer Lloyd Robinson, best known for the much-versioned hit Cuss Cuss. Sons Of Light, unfortunately no info available, make a deep impression with the uptempo roots tune Land Of Love. Their harmonies are reminiscent of the Heptones.
The well-known Meditations open side four with Think So. Their yearning harmony vocals guarantee an awesome song. By the way, this song was released in the UK under the name Much Smarter. Junior Murvin’s falsetto is recognizable from thousands, who doesn’t know his immortal tune Police And Thieves? On the same level is Cross Over, underpinned by a brooding and sinister Perry riddim. Mention The Congos to any reggae fan and, no doubt, he will instantly refer to their masterpiece Heart Of The Congos, which they recorded with Lee Perry, way back in 1977. The unparalleled song At The Feast comes from that album.

LP 3

Side Five again includes more unknown talent such as Debra Keese & The Black Five. Only two Upsetter productions by singer Debra can be found. She doesn’t make a bad impression with her Rastafarian-influenced song Travelling. This certainly also applies to the duo Peter & Paul Lewis with their tune Ethiopian Land, recorded in 1978. Outstanding here is Lord Sassafrass’ Green Bay Incident. It’s the deejay version of one of Lee Perry’s masterpieces, Dreadlocks In Moonlight. The dub version is of the Lee Perry version by the way.
The last side includes the irresistible Brother Noah from the unknown group The Shadows. Beautiful interplay of lead vocals and harmonies caress the ears! The last two songs are by Junior Ainsworth aka Denny Hensworth, so one and the same artist. His two songs, typical roots songs, close this album in a dignified way.

Most of the songs are followed by a dub version played by Perry’s in-house band, The Upsetters, a constantly changing group of top musicians. With names such as Sly Dunbar, Boris Gardiner, Willie Lindo, Ernest Rangin, Winston Wright, Bobby Ellis, David Madden, Dirty Harry, and Geoffrey Chung, quality is assured. The dubs are quite reserved, with little splashing sound effects, here and there vocals fading in and out, with plenty of space for the ever-leading bass and drum.


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