Lee Scratch Perry
Panic in Babylon
I am not the right person to review this album. The appeal of reggae and many of its derivations escape me so much that i have something akin to a visceral reaction and extreme dislike of the genre. Maybe it has something to do with no matter where you tune into a reggae album there’s that inescapable groove haunting the track like some years’ old joke that’s not getting any funnier or more enjoyable. I figured that Lee Scratch Perry –one of the kings of reggae and an innovator in his own right– would be a good place to look to help shed my unfounded attitude. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be the case. Perry and his producers P. Brunkow and DJ Star*trek do their best to add an experimental flourish here and there and in some cases, they succeed. “Fight to the Finish” has a nice horn melody, fancy lead guitar work and electronic modifications on Perry’s voice. “Voodoo” follows suit in the same manner, with both Perry and his guitarist echoing distantly, almost from beyond the grave. For the most part, the rest of the disc is what you’d expect to hear coming from your average hippie’s dorm room.
Perry’s main contribution to the record is his vocals and given that most of his lyrics seem to be drug-fueled improvisations, including being Dr. Dick, Dr. Nick, Dr. Lee, Dr. Me, etc. on “Pussy Man” and his declarations of panic in various music scene sub-genres on the title track, it’s hard to figure out why repetition and tenuous allusions to revolution are meant to be inspiring or informative. In the end, Panic in Babylon is better than what little reggae I’ve allowed invade my musical sphere, but all that really amounts to is that after listening to this record I’m not ready to tear my ears off.
Narnack Records: www.narnackrecords.com