belated tune: Lee Perry, “Disco Devil” (1976)

Download: Lee Perry, “Disco Devil”

For those seeking a small piece of essential dub history, you’ve come to the right place.

Powerful vocalist Max Romeo (the first voice you hear on the track here) recorded “I Chase The Devil” with the support of Lee Perry’s band, The Upsetters, in 1976. Perry  and The Upsetters recorded another version of the song, entitled “Croaking Lizard,” later that year. And finally, Perry smartly mashed the two together, threw in the sounds of a bubbling bong, and created this, “Disco Devil” –faster and messier than either of those tracks. And, for me, greater than the sum of its parts.

Lee Perry, “Disco Devil”

Of course, you’ve probably heard “I Chase The Devil” somewhere before–possibly sampled on the Kanye West-produced Black Album track “Lucifer” (or on one of the 20+ other tracks that’ve sampled it), or while blasting K-JAH West in a stolen Moonbeam on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

It’s ubiquity is no surprise though: there’s something eerily captivating about that first cry out–“Lucifer, Son of the Morning”–and the weird groove that surrounds the speaker’s plight to “chase the devil out the Earth.” The lyrics and instrumentals combine to channel a strong sense of weariness, uneasiness. And though that sort of thing seems characteristic of dub reggae (I won’t pretend to be an expert), it’s especially easy to feel a part of this song.

Look for more gushing posts about dub classics in the near future (and also a little something about a 2012 dub-infused release to which I still owe a few more listens, the collaboration from Sun Araw, M. Gedes Genras, and The Meet Congos).