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Music

Lee 'Scratch' Perry documentary now available on The Criterion Collection

@SamWKemp

Dub fans rejoice, a documentary about the legendary Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is available to watch online. The Upsetter: The Life & Music Of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is one of the instalments of the Roots & Revolution: Reggae On Film series, dedicated to tracking the genre’s worldwide impact.

Originally Released back in 2009, the film is narrated by Benicio del Toro and stars Perry himself alongside a cast of famous faces, including Paul McCartney, whose post-Beatles band, Wings, worked in Perry’s Black Ark studio in the 1970s. The documentary arrives six months after the death of the reggae pioneer in August 2021.

The Jamaica Observer reported that Perry passed away at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Western Jamaica after battling a persistent illness, the nature of which has not been released. Six months after his passing, The Upsetter has arrived on The Criterion Collection, the trailer for which you can check out below.

Perry was born in Kendal Jamaica in 1936. After moving to bustling Kingston in the 1960s, he became an essential feature of the city’s musical landscape. Speaking in a 1984 interview, Perry described his upbringing in rural Kendal: “My father worked on the road, my mother in the fields. We were very poor,” he said, adding: “I went to school… I learned nothing at all. Everything I have learned has come from nature.”

Over the course of his career, Perry produced over 1000 recordings, working with a stunning variety of artists along the way, including Beastie Boys, The Orb, Junior Murvin, and The Congos.

Perry also worked on some of Bob Marley And The Wailers’ early albums, as well as the ‘Small Axe’, ‘Duppy Conqueror’, ‘Jah Live’, ‘Punky Reggae Party’, and ‘Rastaman Live Up’ singles. In his lifetime, Perry asserted that he was the one to transform The Wailers from a suave vocal trio into the rebellious musical freedom fighters that they eventually became.

Check out the trailer for The Upsetter below.