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|On-U Sound Records|
|Founder||Adrian Maxwell Sherwood and Pete Holdsworth|
|Genre||Dub, reggae, experimental, electronica|
|Country of origin||UK|
On-U Sound Records is an English record label known for releasing its own unique flavour of dub music since the 1980s.The label was founded by Adrian Sherwood in 1979/1980 and is home to acts such as Tackhead, Dub Syndicate, African Head Charge, The London Underground, Little Annie, Creation Rebel, Mark Stewart, Gary Clail, New Age Steppers, Audio Active, Asian Dub Foundation, and the dub collective Singers & Players.
A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.
Dub is a genre of electronic music that grew out of reggae in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae. Music in this genre consists predominantly of instrumental remixes of existing recordings and is achieved by significantly manipulating and reshaping the recordings, usually by removing the vocals from an existing music piece, and emphasizing the drum and bass parts. Other techniques include dynamically adding extensive echo, reverb, panoramic delay, and occasional dubbing of vocal or instrumental snippets from the original version or other works. It was an early form of popular electronic music. The Roland Space Echo was widely used by dub producers in the 1970s to produce echo and delay effects.
Adrian Maxwell Sherwood is an English record producer specializing in the genre of dub music. Sherwood has created a distinctive production style based on the application of dub effects and dub mixing techniques to other forms of electronic dance music and popular music outside of the genre. Sherwood has worked extensively with a variety of reggae artists as well as the musicians Keith LeBlanc, Doug Wimbish and Skip McDonald. Sherwood has remixed tracks by Coldcut, Depeche Mode, The Woodentops, Primal Scream, Pop Will Eat Itself, Sinéad O'Connor, and Skinny Puppy. Within his role as a record producer, he has worked with a variety of record labels, however his most well-known label is On-U Sound Records, which he founded in 1979. Sherwood has been a member of the band Tackhead. As someone who considers himself tone deaf, the producer focuses on making sounds and noises rather than melody.
During the 1980s the sleeves and labels of On-U releases often featured a release date that was ten years in advance of the record’s actual release date. For example, the sleeve notes on African Head Charge’s Environmental Studies LP, released in 1982, claimed it was ‘another 1992 On-U production’. The conceit suggested the label’s esoteric reggae fusion was at least a decade ahead of its time.
Lee "Scratch" Perry OD is a Jamaican music producer and inventor noted for his innovative studio techniques and production style. Perry was a pioneer in the 1970s development of dub music with his early adoption of remixing and studio effects to create new instrumental or vocal versions of existing reggae tracks. He has worked with and produced for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Murvin, the Congos, Max Romeo, Adrian Sherwood, the Beastie Boys, Ari Up, The Clash, The Orb and many others.
Dub Syndicate is a dub band, formed by Adrian Sherwood, which became a showcase for Adrian Sherwood's collaboration with Lincoln "Style" Scott, former drummer with the Roots Radics, Suns of Arqa and Creation Rebel.
Tackhead is an industrial hip-hop group that was most active during the 1980s and early 1990s, and briefly reformed in 2004 for a tour. Their music occupies the territory where funk, dub, industrial music and electronica intersect. The core members are Doug Wimbish (bass), Keith Leblanc (percussion) and Skip McDonald (guitar) and producer Adrian Sherwood. Despite being short-lived as band proper, the legacy and output of these groups of musicians has been prodigious.
Prince Far I was a Jamaican reggae deejay, producer and a Rastafarian. He was known for his gruff voice and critical assessment of the Jamaican government. His track "Heavy Manners" used lyrics against measures initiated towards violent crime.
Martin Glover, known by his stage name Youth, is an English record producer and a founder member and bassist of Killing Joke. He is a member of the Fireman, along with Paul McCartney.
The Sound were an English post-punk band, formed in South London in 1979 and dissolved in 1988. They were fronted by Adrian Borland, and evolved from his previous band, the Outsiders.
Uncarved Block is the third studio album by Flux of Pink Indians who, by then, were known simply as Flux. It was released in 1986.
The Mothmen were a short-lived post-punk band from England, formed around 1979 by Dave Rowbotham, Chris Joyce and Tony Bowers, shortly after they left The Durutti Column, including ex-Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias singer Bob Harding.
Pitch Black is a New Zealand electronica duo from Christchurch.
Skip McDonald is an American musician who also performs under the stage name Little Axe.
African Head Charge is a psychedelic dub ensemble active since the early 1980s. The group was formed by percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah, and featured a revolving cast of members, including Prisoner, Crocodile, Junior Moses, Sunny Akpan, Skip McDonald, and Jah Wobble. The group released most of its albums on Adrian Sherwood's label, On-U Sound.
Rob Ellis, better known as Pinch, is a dubstep artist from Bristol, United Kingdom noted for his fusion of styles such as Reggae, World Music, and Dancehall with dubstep. He released his first album, Underwater Dancehall in 2007, on Tectonic records, which he founded. One of Pinch's most well-known tracks is "Qawwali", released on Planet Mu records, which references the devotional singing of the same name and features samples of harmonium and singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His songs appear on compilations such as "Box of Dub: Dubstep and Future Dub 2", "Science Faction: Dubstep", "10 Tons Heavy" and "200". More recently he has moved away from dubstep towards the UK Bass scene, working with producers such as Mumdance and Adrian Sherwood.
New Age Steppers were a dub collective from the United Kingdom, formed by producer Adrian Sherwood and featuring members of various prominent 1970s UK post-punk groups, including Ari Up and Viv Albertine of the Slits, Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, and John Waddington and Bruce Smith of Rip Rig + Panic. Other musicians included associates of Sherwood's On-U Sound label, including George Oban, Style Scott, and Eskimo Fox.
Gary Clail is an English singer and record producer, and the founder of the Gary Clail Sound System. He was part of On-U Sound Records and led Gary Clail's Tackhead Sound System. They had a big hit in clubs with the 1991 song "Human Nature".
Suns of Arqa are a World Music collective founded in 1979 by Michael Wadada. Since the group's formation, over 200 people from around the world have played and recorded with them, and in many cases these were like-minded musicians Wadada met as he travelled the world. Pioneers of World Beat, Ambient, Downtempo and Electro-Dub, Suns of Arqa draw inspiration from around the world, interpreting indigenous, tribal and classical folk traditions. They have created an impressive legacy and earned worldwide recognition.
Revenge of the Mozabites is the first studio album by the band Suns of Arqa, recorded in 1979 and released in 1980 by Rocksteady Records. The album was produced by Suns of Arqa founder Michael Wadada, and his friend Adrian Sherwood.
White Band Speak with Forked Tongue is the sixth studio album by the band Suns of Arqa, recorded with Sprout Head Uprising and released in 1989 by BOP Cassettes. The album was produced by Suns of Arqa founder Michael Wadada. It is a compilation of previous singles, album tracks, new material, cover versions and collaborations. It was released only on cassette in 1989, and many of the tracks were re-issued on the 2018 album Pressure Drop, a tribute to the great Lizard Logan. The style of the album is a radical departure from previous albums, particularly with the more pop-oriented vocals, and the use of Hammond organ, saxophones and trombones.
Fats Comet was an industrial hip-hop group formed by Keith LeBlanc, Skip McDonald, Adrian Sherwood and Doug Wimbish. The band was known for producing dance tracks that were densely layered in samples and ahead of their time. In a 1987 article in Spin, Scott Burlingham commented that "songs like "Bop Bop" and "Stormy Weather" are three years old and they still don't fit in." The members eventually shifted their focus to another project Tackhead, under which they continue to produce music.
Lincoln Valentine Scott, better known as Style Scott, was a Jamaican reggae drummer, famous for playing in the Roots Radics and, later, with Dub Syndicate. He also recorded and performed with Prince Far I, Bunny Wailer, Scientist and Creation Rebel.