Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2015 - Track Nineteen - Wishes Of The Wicked

Aside from growing up on the same dead end street here in rural Maryland and being a life-long friend, Nick Jones is a huge reggae fan, record collector and a devout member of the 12 Tribes of Israel.  Nick is also a highly talented illustrator and DJ for his Napthali Sound and though he doesn't get a chance to "play out" often, he and I have been known to nice-up a few Jamaican Independence Day celebrations in my suburban backyard every August.  Once facing charges for "telephone misuse" Nick had to serve 40 hours of community service for making a prank phone call to our high school's vice principal... and there was the time with the pickle jar and the old dude in the mobile home but I'll just stop right there.  Thanks Nick, you're like a brother to me!

"Title: Wishes of the Wicked.  Artist: Lee Perry.  Release Date: 1965.  Label: Ska Beat.  Producer: Clement Dodd at Studio One.

With an inspired sense of independence from the English crown in 1962, arose a new sound from the island of Jamaica - an upbeat rhythm known as Ska.  In the late 1950s, traditional American rhythm and blues was losing its hold on the dance floor.  Young producers like Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and Duke Reid began recording their own 'version' of R&B, utilizing local talent.  With a few years, the American 'shuffle' style morphed into a new beat characterized by guitar chops on the off-beat.  With screaming horns sprinkled into piano or organ riffs, complete with  drumming to keep everything in time - this new sound had a true celebration vibe.

Enter Rainford Hugh Lee Perry AKA 'Scratch' - a handyman and shop keeper for the then leading sound system owned by Sir "Coxsone" Dodd, know as Studio One.  Over time, Perry proved to have a keen ear for sound.  After graduating from handyman to soundman under Dodd's tutelage, Perry tried his hand as a vocal performer - cutting scathing warning to rival producers and sound systems.  Perry prided himself on "upsetting" the status quo - hence his chief moniker - The Upsetter.

In 1965 Perry explored new ground with his cut Wishes of the Wicked.  No longer was he directing his cryptic warning to unscrupulous producers.  This one is directed to all wayward thinkers and workers of iniquity, as the opening verse declares:

"The wishes of the wicked shall never prevail.  The more they try, the more they fail."
Perry does not give specifics as to what these "wishes" are - he just seals the statement with: 

"What is to be must be."
The declaration is then back up with a stern Scriptural warning directed to would-be thieves: 

"It was written by the Prophet.  That the seed you sow, that's what grow.  If you sow good seed, you will reap good seed."
Perhaps the prophet being referred to is King Solomon, chief compiler of the book of Proberbs: 

"The wick worth a deceitful work: but to him that south righteousness shall be a sure reward."  (Proverbs 11v.18)
Following the "words of the prophet," we are treated a a horns arrangement complete with saxophone wailing over the upbeat tempo.  This paves the way for Perry to reiterate his previous warnings as the horns take over again.  The musical ride then fades to a reluctant close with horns blaring.

This musical excursion captures the raw essence of original Jamaican music.  It more importantly captures an early glimpse of the man responsible for a musical revolution - Lee "Scratch" Perry.

"Everything starts from Scratch" 
So, if you find yourself to be an unfortunate target of the "wishes of the wicked" this season, don't take the law into your own hands - just blast this tune and watch the wicked flee!!!"

Lee Perry - Wishes Of The Wicked - 2015 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular Track Nineteen 

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