December 26, 2011, at 8:26 pm

Candy from the Black Ark

Candy McKenzieIn 1977 UK singer of Guyanese parentage Candy McKenzie was sent to Jamaica by Island records to record an album at the Black Ark studio with Lee Perry. A master tape was delivered to Island but wasn’t released and the only two tracks from the sessions that were heard by the public at large were Breakfast In Bed and Disco Fits, released by Perry on a Black Ark 12″.

Jump forward 30+ years and Trojan released a limited edition 7″ in late 2010 featuring two of the tracks; Breakfast In Bed and Ice Cream. This was followed late last month by the entire album, a limited edition vinyl LP: Lee Scratch Perry presents Candy McKenzie. The ten tracks here are of varied quality, they don’t represent Scratch at his creative best and some sound more finished than others but the sound is unmistakably Black Ark and overall these definitely deserved a full release. Indeed a handful of tracks are just plain great so if like me you weren’t overwhelmed by the recent 7″ of Breakfast In Bed and Ice Cream then don’t be put off, there is better stuff on offer that those.

Walking In The Sun

Lyrically this is more lovers than roots though McKenzie’s vocal style was hardly plaintive, indeed she had a big strong voice. This works well with tracks like Walking In The Sun and the final piece, the slightly unfinished sounding When The Big Day.

When The Big Day

Perhaps it’s because it was unfinished that Presents Candy McKenzie lacks many of the bells and whistles (literally!) of classic Black Ark releases but this unfussy approach works well, not everyone appreciates the eccentricities of Lee Perry and it may just be that this LP is a little more accessible as a result.

Retailing at £20 this is hardly cheap but with only 500 pieces available it is likely to disappear fairly soon so move fast if you want one.

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