Lee “Scratch” Perry, The Might Upsetter – “Kung Fu Meets the Dragon” (1975 / 1995)

Kung Fu Meets the Dragon seems to be in the reggae section of pretty much every single record store I go to, regardless of where it is in the country (or overseas for that matter). I’d probably had it in my hands a dozen times before finally deciding to buy it the other day. I’m not sure why that day was any different than the others, other than that I had some money in my pocket and I wanted some dub.

I don’t know squat about reggae and dub, really. Sure, I know a lot more than I did maybe three years ago, when the only performers I could have named for you all had the last name of Marley, but it’s not like I’m some kind of expert. Far from it. But I know one thing, and that’s that I enjoy it. Kid Hops does a reggae/dub show on Seattle’s KEXP radio on Saturdays from 9AM to Noon that we often catch while driving around (…king of the town… always got my windows rolled down…), and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re even remotely interested in the genres – you can stream it through the station’s website HERE. And I don’t don’t know enough to tell you anything about famous reggae/dub producer Lee “Scratch” Perry that you won’t easily find with just a simple Google search, so I’ll just leave you with this link to comprehensive article about the man and his body of work that appears on the Red Bull Music Academy website, which actually has some impressively researched articles.

Kung Fu Meets the Dragon is a relatively early work by dub standards, originally released in 1975. That being said, it’s out there. I mean like way the hell out there. It doesn’t strike me as being super echoey like a lot of dub, but more incorporating odd and interesting sounds, including some vocal clips that sound like they were either recorded specifically for this record or sampled from kung fu movies (the blonde serpent head on the far left of the album jacket looks an awful lot like Bruce Lee…). In a way it’s a more mellow experience, but still recognizable as dub, at least to my ears – though I did find a few articles/reviews online that indicate Kung Fu Meets the Dragon doesn’t technically qualify as dub (is it weird that whenever I hear or read the word “technically” that the first thing I think of is the line: “I don’t know what you mean by ‘technically…’” by Alison Ashworth’s mom in High Fidelity? Maybe. Probably.)

This is an enjoyable weekend morning record, perfect to start your day while you wait for the caffeine in that first cup of coffee to kick in and make you feel half way human again. It’s probably good for late night zoning out too, though I don’t do as much of that as I used to. This will get some continued spins for sure.

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