Nov 01, 2014
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LargeUp Premiere: Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “Black Ark Vampires”

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Ask Lee “Scratch” Perry why he burned down Black Ark studio, and he’ll tell you: vampires. The facility became a magnet, he has said, for bloodsuckers and leeches, prompting his unorthodox decision to torch the iconic facility–or so the story goes. Scratch revisits this legend on “Black Ark Vampires,” a collaboration with Subatomic Sound, his backing band of the last four years, co-produced by longtime collaborator Adrian Sherwood.

Right on time for Halloween,”Black Ark Vampires” is rooted in “Vampires and Informers,” a collaboration between Subatomic and Elephant Man from a few years ago, and a conversation between Perry and percussionist Larry McDonald, a Black Ark veteran. The result is one of Perry’s most focused tracks in years, as the Upsetter promises to “kill vampire” in England, America and Kingston  with tools including electric wire and roast corn.

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Next Future: Watch Protoje’s “Stylin” Video

Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Christopher Mitchell

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It seemed like the whole reggae world (LargeUp included) was out at sea last week on Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise but big tings a gwaan off-ship, too. Among these was the release of “Stylin,” the second single from Protoje’s upcoming LP, Ancient Future. The track features a slightly different, though not entirely foreign, sound for Oje, manipulating his voice through the use of a vocoder. Check out the lyric video (which is kinda like a real video but with lyrics) below, followed by some pics from Protoje’s live Miami debut (at which he was accompanied by Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid and Ky-mani Marley) this past Sunday.

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VIDEO: Watch Hollie Cook Perform Live at the Google Offices

Words by Jesse Serwer

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Hollie Cook’s first US tour is officially history after wrapping up this weekend in Los Angeles. But there’s still an opportunity to catch a performance even if you missed all the shows. Following night two of the tour in Boston, Hollie and The Next Level Band stopped into Google’s offices in that city for a performance on the Talks at Google series, running an entire set’s worth of tunes, from her debut single “Milk and Honey” to tracks off her new album, Twice, like “99,” which she reveals here, is about eating ice cream.

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LargeUp Premiere: Horseman’s “Dawn of the Dread” LP

Words by Jesse Serwer

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Halloween and reggae might seem like a strange pair, but there’s a whole history of ghoulishly irie tunes out there, from Ernie Smith’s “Duppy or Gunman” to the whole Scientist Rids the World of the Curse of the Evil Vampires LP. (See our “Duppies and Vampires” Toppa Top 10 countdown for some more favorites). Adding to that legacy now is Dawn of the Dread, the first album from London-based drummer and vocalist Horseman.

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Toppa Top 10: Ten Sitcom Stars with Caribbean Roots


Words by Jesse Serwer
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R.I.P.: John Holt, 1947-2014

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Reggae (and, perhaps equally, rocksteady) lost one of its great voices this weekend, in the late, great John Holt. Holt had at least three distinct eras in his career, and chances are you know his work from one, if not all of them.

The singer, who began working with producer Leslie Kong as a teenager in the early 60s, came to prominence as a member of Jamaican vocal group the Paragons, which he joined in 1964. The group (which also included a young Bob Andy) recorded some of the most seminal hits of the rocksteady era, working with producer Duke Reid at Treasure Isle, including “The Tide Is High,” which Holt wrote, and which was later made into a worldwide hit by Blondie. In the ’70s, Holt became known as something of a covers specialist, recording several popular cover albums with names like 1,000 Volts of Holt, and turning tracks like Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” into lite reggae gold. Embracing Rastafari, in later years he would take on a more defiant tone with his music, as exemplified in his 1983 protest “Police in Helicopter.” Here’s a look at a very small handful of Holt’s most notable tunes.

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