Lee Perry

At Wirl Records

Image of Lee Perry - At Wirl Records
Record Label
Kingston Sounds

About this item

Lee Perry began his entry into the music business at the age of 16. Moving up to Kingston Town and working around various Sound Systems, before finding employment at Coxonne Dodd’s Studio One set up, in the late 50s early 60s. Perry started out as a record scout, organising sessions and supervising auditions at Dodd’s record shop on Orange Street. Helping to make hits for Delroy Wilson and the Maytals, which would lead to his own vocal records released through Studio One, the musical backing for which, came from legendary Studio One house band The Skatalites.

A dispute over credits and money saw Perry leave Studio One and work with various producers including Clancy Eccles and JJ Johnson, before arriving at the door of producer Joe Gibbs in 1967. Here he would write songs and produce hits for artists such as, Errol Dunkley and the Pioneers. Again lack of musical credit and financial reward saw Perry move on this time to WIRL (West Indies Records Limited) Records, working alongside manager Clifford Rae, who would provide studio time and pay for pressings in return for helping to promote and distribute WIRL product, which Perry would carry out on his trusted Honda 50 motorcycle around Kingston town.

This period at WIRL saw some inspired work from Perry. ‘Run For Cover’ was another musical blow to a previous employer, Coxonne Dodd and featured the Sensations on backing vocals and Lynn Taitt’s guitar picking skills. ‘People Funny Boy’ was a massive hit for Perry going on to sell over 60,000 copies. Joe Gibbs would be at the end of this musical attack. Perry had felt Joe Gibbs had turned his back on him, after he had provided hits for groups like The Pioneers. The song would be one of the first records to feature a new beat (reggae) inspired by the sounds coming out of a Pocomania Church, Perry had heard one night. The congregation inside, wailed in a more slower way than the current musical style of the time, ska.

Perry worked up this new style with Clancy Eccles, who would come under attack himself in ‘You Crummy’. Their closeness, which as detailed in that song would find them, ‘Even shared the same Gal’ but ‘Now it’s plain to see we reached the end’. ‘Set Them Free’ was an answer record to Prince Buster’s ‘Judge Dread’ (which had featured Perry on it) a plea to the Judges in Jamaica that handed out extremely harsh sentences to the young offenders of the time. The track was cut on the same rhythm as ‘Run For Cover’. ‘Django Shoots First’ inspired by the Spaghetti Western film of the same name, features Sir Lord Comic. One of the early DJ’s who used a jive talking style over rhythms. ‘Night Doctor’ was a hit instrumental that featured the organ talents of Ansel Collins, that really push the tune along. ‘Something You Got’ was a cover of an USA R&B track by Chris Kenner and ‘Wind Up Girl’ was cut at the same session. ‘Water Pump’ was a rude style track that was cut later and originally released in 1974. As was ‘People Sokup Boy’ a later version of ‘People Funny Boy’. ‘Labrish’ was one of the first great talk over tunes that features Lee Perry and producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee talking about the Political situation in Jamaica at the time and their own financial situation and stories of various comrades. The track was originally released in 1973. Bunny Lee would play a major part in lee Perry’s career around this time and they were very close, often sharing sessions and rhythms. Ironically it would be Bunny Lee that took over Perry’s roll at WIRL and become responsible for the label's products in years to come. Clifford Rae who give control to Bunny for a lot of the WIRL product and even gave him his shop 101 Orange Street. So here we have a collection of music born out of a time spent at WIRL Records and providing an important chapter in Lee Perry’s career and indeed to the story of reggae itself.

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