It’s a musical coming together that seems simultaneously insane and yet wholly reasonable. Happy Mondays singer and legendary melon-twister Shaun Ryder has teamed up with the late, great dub innovator, reggae visionary and self-styled “Mad Scientist” Lee “Scratch” Perry on a new single, “Green Banana”.
The single, which comes backed with a typically dubby remix by Bristolian duo Dubkasm, is taken from the forthcoming LP King Perry, which will be released on Tricky’s False Idols label on February 2, 2024. Tricky also co-produced four of the album tracks. Other collaborations on the 12-track album include highly-regarded South London psychedelic R&B singer Greentea Peng, as well as Tricky himself.
“Green Banana” is driven by a thumping bass and driving rhythm and features a back-and-forth vocal between Perry and Ryder, with the Mancunian singer especially sounding as urgent and fired-up as he has for years. The Dubkasm remix is a mellower affair, though still plays to the chemistry between the two vocalists. You can listen to the track by clicking below.
King Perry represents the final studio album written, produced, and recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Daniel Boyle in the months before Perry’s passing aged 85 in August 2021.
According to a statement from False Idols ahead of the release, the album was Perry’s idea to “do something new, something different but still with a dub framework”. The record will also incorporate “synthwave, big beat, drum & bass and electronica”, and is promised to be a “kaleidoscopic and engaging melting pot of rhythms, melodies, and voices.”
The statement also said that: “Poignantly, closing track ‘Goodbye’ was Perry’s last ever recorded vocal performance.”
With six decades in the music business, Lee “Scratch” Perry is recognized as one of the most important figures in the history of Jamaican music, with his innovative use of studio effects and production techniques effectively pioneering dub in the 1970s. The studio brilliance was married to a singular sense of style and uniquely eccentric personality, leading Keith Richards to famously describe him as “the Salvador Dali of music.”
The “Scratch” nickname had its roots in his debut recording “Chicken Scratch” but might also be applied to his early use of remixing as a way of breathing new dimensions into existing tracks. Other nicknames for the producer/musician included “The Upsetter,” after his house band, and, for more oblique reasons that have never been fully explained, “Pipecock Jackson.”
During his six-decade career, Perry worked with and produced for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Murvin, The Congos, Beastie Boys, Ari Up, the Clash and the Orb.
According to the pre-release album statement: “King Perry captures the accomplished and creatively charged musician in Perry; joyful, intuitive, and always colorful, alongside guest talent sculpting musical textures through the manipulation of sonic space and rhythmic echoes.
“[The album] further preserves the memory of a not only a musical visionary but a true collaborator – defined by a reassuring force of power, eccentric to the very end.”