‘Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Vision of Paradise’ Documentary Goes on a Colorful Journey With Dub’s Nutty Professor: Film Review

Lee 'Scratch' Perry's Vision of Paradise
Courtesy Photo

The pioneering accomplishments of reggae's most eccentric producer-vocalist aren't just thoroughly documented in Lee "Scratch" Perry's Vision of Paradise -- they're reimagined as the actions of a superhero fighting evil with musical instruments of mass destruction. In between animated clips, the film whirlwinds among the icon's Switzerland home, the Ethiopian birthplace of Rastafarian deity Haile Selassie and the rebuilt Black Ark Studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

Jamaica Moving to Reclaim Global Dominance in Reggae

The lattermost is where Perry produced transformative hits for The Wailers and others, and helped create dub, influencing countless subsequent musicians. Perry's reasons for burning down the studio in 1983 aren't entirely explained -- "He wanted to destroy it before it destroyed him," says biographer David Katz, who is interviewed alongside numerous Perry collaborators. But overall, the movie places Perry's eight-decade career and its oddities into a compelling, deservedly timeless context.

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of Billboard.