Adrian Sherwood

b. 13 August 1958, England. A pioneering force in UK reggae, Sherwood’s first attempts to set up labels in the late 70s were disastrous, and cost him a great deal of money in the process. Despite such misadventures, he persevered, and set up the On U Sound label to house ex-Pop Group singer Mark Stewart’s New Age Steppers project. Hundreds of albums and singles have subsequently been released, including music by Bim Sherman, Dub Syndicate and Mothmen (an embryonic Simply Red). Sherwood styled On U Sound after the reggae model of “house bands” (Revolutionaries, Soul Syndicate, etc.). The label/organization also played out as a sound system, in a similar fashion to its Jamaican counterparts. Among the notable long-term protagonists at On U Sound have been Bonjo (African Head Charge), Bim Sherman and Skip McDonald aka Little Axe, Doug Wimbish and Keith LeBlanc (Tackhead). However, Sherwood is equally renowned for his production skills, which he learned at first hand from Prince Far I and Dr Pablo. Simply Red, the Fall, Depeche Mode, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM have been among his notable clients.

On U Sound came to the attention of the public outside reggae circles when self-styled “white toaster” Gary Clail entered the UK charts in 1991 with “Human Nature”. However, neither this, nor any other individual release, can be described as representative of the rock-reggae-dance fusion that On U Sound have fostered. On U Sound’s eclecticism remains rampant, but as Sherwood himself concedes: “I’m first and foremost a passionate fan of reggae music”. In 1994, he established the Pressure Sounds imprint, dedicated to reissuing classic reggae and dub releases. He released his debut solo album, titled after Jamie Reid’s infamous punk slogan, in 2003.

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