gullbuy music review

On U Sound Box


On U Sound Box


On U Sound

various artists 3xCD

On U Sound Box reviewed in the gullbuyThe On U Sound record label was formed in the early-1980s by British producer Adrian Sherwood.

Adrian Sherwood, known for producing The New Age Steppers (featuring ex-Slits vocalist Ari- Up), Creation Rebel, Singers & Players, African Head Charge, and Prince Far I, also inspired and worked with such artists as PiL, The Slits (Man Next Door) and The Pop Group.

Incidentally he also produced Vivien Goldman's Laundrette which was added in last week's gullbuy. On U Sound is known for its wide ranging influence via reggae and experimental dub, and there's plenty of that to be found on the three cds included in the On-U Sound Box along with some other early 80s sounds.

A Party of Dubbers and Toasters

(Cleopatra, originally: 1997)
This collection brings together more early '80s (this one '81-'84) On-U Sound recordings that aren't always dub or toasting. It probably has equal amounts dub/reggae and more varied early 80s music influenced by funk and new wave sounds. Of the three this is my favorite disc because of this variety, and the track selection quality is very high.

Favorites include: 1,2 (check out this guitar dub track!), 4 (this track has a Tones on Tail quality to it), 6,7 (excellent typical dub style), 10 (also reminds me of Tones on Tail), 12, 13 (memorizing dub with nice guitar work).

Dub Xperience: The Dread Operators

(Cleopatra, originally: 1996)
This disc features the most reggae of the three including dub versions, roots style, and early dancehall singing all recorded between 1981 and 1984. The artists include Creation Rebel (Tracks 3,4,12, and 8 and 13 with the New Age Steppers) and Singers & Players (Tracks 1,6,10,14) who dominate Dub Xperience, each contributing 4 tunes.

Favorites of mine on this disc are:
for dub - 4,5,8 ("Chemical Specialist" -- the dub version of Jah Woosh's "Woodpecker Sound" Track 7 (in which he mimics a woodpecker's call), and 12.
for vocal tracks -: 6,7,11 and 13. Singers & Players have some great dancehall vocal style backed with drum and bass rhythm on "Moses" Track 6. The Play Group are quite inventive on "Silent Mover" Track 11.

In Dub Daze: An On-U Sound Compilation

(Cleopatra, originally: 1996)
Showing an influenced from early '80s electro-funk and new wave - most of Adrian Sherwood's productions exude a dub sound and this disc is no different in that regard but this disc is the least reggae of the three discs.

There is a heavy focus on the groups Voice of Authority (Tracks 2,7,10,15) and Playgroup (Tracks 1,5,8,14) but also has some excellent tracks by New Age Steppers, Creation Rebel and Sons of Aqua. Definitely the most experimental of the three cds this probably has the most to offer a modern audience or somebody not to keen on full fledged reggae.

My favorites on this disc include 1,2,3,6,8,11,14.

Patrick Rands , November 20, 2001