Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Friends – Open The Gate
Music On Vinyl
3LP Limited Edition
Website Record Label
1. Anthony “Sangie” Davis & Lee Perry – Words
2. Devon Irons & Dr. Alimantado – Vampire
1. The Heptones & The Upsetters – Babylon Falling Version
2. The Heptones & The Upsetters – Mistry Babylon Version
3. Leroy Sibbles – Garden Of Life
1. Carlton Jackson – History
2. Junior Delgado – Sons Of Slaves
3. Watty Burnett – Open The Gate
1. The Mighty Diamonds & The Upsetters – Talk AboutIt/Yama-Ky
2. Eric Donaldson – Cherry Oh Baby
3. Watty Burnett – Rainy Night In Portland
1. Horace Smart & The Upsetters – Ruffer Ruff/Ruffer Dub
2. The Congos – Neckodeemus
3. The Twin Roots – Know Love
1. Lee Perry – City Too Hot
2. Lee Perry – Bionic Rats
3. Junior Murvin – Bad Weed
Lee “Scratch” Perry
During the turbulent 1970s, Lee “Scratch” Perry, a genuine eccentric, reinvented musical “creativity” via nearly endless experimentation, transcending musical borders, and his pursuit of an entirely unique sound. In his Black Ark studio, he worked almost maniacally with native Jamaican musicians, including The Upsetters as his backup band. The studio did, in fact, become a spawning ground for many Jamaican artists. His immersive productions are filled with rich, layered sounds, making his songs come to life. His music has a profound and timeless appeal, and it has shaped the sound of dub and sound effects in unmistakable ways. He set fire to the Black Ark studio near the end of the 1970s. This episode, which was preceded by more odd and unpredictable conduct, marked the end of an era of creative and production high points. He kept a modest profile in the 1980s while the world rediscovered the pure richness and originality of his work. The 1990s were a fruitful decade for collaboration with a wide range of musicians and producers. Although already in his 80s, he kept recording and touring all over the globe. On August 29, 2021, he set out on his final tour to Zion.
Open The Gate
This collection was released in a limited edition by Trojan Records in 1989, to the great satisfaction of reggae collectors, who by then were already facing sky-high prices for Perry’s releases, many of which were issued in very limited 7″ & 12″ Jamaican pressings. These rare releases are the source for this unique compilation, sprung from the mind of this genius “madman,” infused with ganja, rum, and exorbitant ideas. They are all extended versions varying in length from 6 minutes to almost 12 minutes! Music On Vinyl from the Netherlands brings this exquisite selection back on the market 34 years later. Again in a limited edition, this time of 2500 copies and pressed on orange vinyl. As for the tracks on this triple LP, we can basically be pretty short. Seasoned Perry fans will not discover any surprises here, as they most likely already know and appreciate the tunes from the 1989 release. Reggae fans in general will also know what’s in it. Many will welcome this new reissue to replace their worn-out original version with a fresh and crisp sounding new one. Still, it is not wrong to take a closer look and comment on the songs.
The first LP offers us 5 tracks totaling 40 minutes! The overpowering, ultra-wicked roots tune Words, sung by Anthony “Sangie” Davis, is taken to an even higher level by Lee Perry’s toast. Devon Irons, better known as Devon Russel, keeps the tension up with Vampire, an extremely atmospheric piece that won’t let you go. Dr. Alimentado’s toast is powerful and relentless, after which the soothing dub version calms the listener down again. Side two offers two vocal pleasures from The Heptones and one solo tune from main vocalist Leroy Sibbles. Although The Heptones are best known for their love songs, they demonstrate here that they also can handle roots tunes very well. Without diminishing the other songs, we spinned the uptempo song Mistry Babylon and its accompanying dub version over and over.
Side 1 of the second LP focuses thematically on Jamaica’s colonial past and related aspects of freedom and slavery. Released in 1977, History by Carlton Jackson is a true masterpiece, both musically and lyrically. Junior Delgado also manages to portray in his own unique way the feelings of the slaves robbed from Africa. Watty Burnett’s Open The Gates closes side one. He would later become an esteemed member of The Congos and make history. Turning the record over, we meet the aforementioned Watty again, this time with a brooding version of Tony Joe White’s classic Rainy Night In Georgia, but now relocated to Portland, Jamaica. Eric Donaldson delivers a Perry-esque version of his hit Cherry Oh Baby, while vocal harmony group The (Mighty) Diamonds shines with Talk About It. The accompanying version is filled, with a sense of humor, by the gibberish of Perry’s children.
On the third LP, we encounter Watty Burnett again, this time as a member of The Congos with the compelling song Neckodeemus. On the original Congos LP Heart Of The Congo, this tune did not appear, but it was added by Blood & Fire in 1996 to the extended reissue edition of this classic album. About Horace Smart we, unfortunately, have no information, but with Ruffer Ruff, released in 1976 on 7″, he manages to impress without fail. Of the real identity of the Twin Roots (Keith Thompson and Kenneth Thompson) not much is known to us, except that they somehow collaborated with Perry and did production work. Their song Know Love is another typical Lee Perry arranged gem, complete with a deep dub version. The master himself steps forward with City Too Hot and Bionic Rats, the A and B side of a Jamaican 12″ released in 1977. Junior Murvin takes charge of the album’s closing track. He became known for the single Police and Thieves, a 100% classic in reggae history, peaking at #23 in the UK Singles Chart in 1980. He sings Bad Weed across the same riddim as Police and Thieves, noting that, despite the totally different lyrics, the magic of the riddim remains intact.