On-U Sound / Adrian Sherwood – 30 Years at The Controls

“Rock and roll, what an empty generation.”

One of the initial notices of existence regarding the On-U Sound crew was the Major Malfunction album credited to drummer Keith LeBlanc, with Doug Wimbish on bass, Skip McDonald, keys and guitar and Adrian Sherwood mixing.  The cut up samples, robotic yet human nature of this work, it’s subtle and direct political nature, crossing racial lines, embracing the good, the bad and the damn ugly, percussion concussions, grabbed me by both ears and slammed me headfirst into many a speaker stack.

“Technology works, technology delivers.”

The search began, reading album sleeves, seeing the same names pop up, remixes by Adrian Sherwood here and there, Tackhead, Sugarhill musical crew of Wimbish, LeBlanc and McDonald. Listening to African Head Charge on my Walkman, sounds panning from the left side of my head to the right and seemingly moving to the front lobe then back, pausing midway to drop some rootical knowledge and dub science.  A psychedelic Africa indeed, never heard anything like that before.

“Adjust the treble and bass.”

So enamored with this sound when in London, I knocked on the door of the address that was  on the sleeves of these’On-U Sound’ productions.  A Japanese woman opened the door of the house, “Uh, is this On U Sound, I’m looking for Adrian Sherwood?”  The woman who introduced herself as Kishi invited me in.  In my head, juvenile enthusiasm was on, I was saying “Damn, that’s Kishi, Kishi!” Kishi Yamamoto was Adrian’s wife back then and she was responsible for the majority of the label artwork and also played keyboards. They didn’t know me from Jack, I arrived unannounced but yet here a fresh pimply yout’ living in Toronto who had a program on CKLN Radio was now standing in the living room / mixing studio of musical royalty, being offered tea, and more records to fuel my program and passion.  A massive mixing desk was on the wall, yes, on the wall, not on a table as normal,  it took up less space this way.

Pay It All Back

I used to have a cassette that had the first Public Enemy album on one side and on the other was “As The Veneer of Democracy Starts To Fade”, by Mark Stewart and The Maffia.  That shit was coarse, nothing like it existed before, apart from Public Enemy in a way, that’s why that cassette was so important to me.  Those two albums showed the possibilities that existed and they still do to this day.  When revolution has become a marketing tool and rebellion stale, put on those albums now, as the charge is still there, ready to inspire and set fire.  The world of control domination politics, statistics that blow minds, sounds that carry the hurt and aspirations. Reflect the time of the past, then and now. Techniques are being constantly refined to maintain the status quo that has been in place for hundreads of years  – yes that’s how I spell hundred.

You gotta check The Quietus interview with Adrian, it delves deep, really sets the record straight as to the conditions of the time that went into creating such an influential sounds.  Adrian and crew have touched thousands, from Massive Attack – vocalist Shara Nelson worked with Adrian that’s how come they knew her, Depeche Mode, Adrian did several remixes for them, Peter Gabriel,  Living Colour, Primal Scream – Echo Dek, what a great piece of work.

Me and my man Angus and a quite a few others would travel across London or up and down the country to catch On U Sound nights, legendary, two queues, one to get in, one to get out, ha!

You get the drift, enough blabbing from me, check that article and seek should you feel what’s been written.

Chemical Specialist




This week’s installment of Ear Conditioning, named after the contribution of Creation Rebel. Razor-wire guitar, pounding dub and a moving b-line.


Also lined up, a new cumbia thing from La Vagancia, that DJ/Rupture pointed me to.


Like many, we’ve been sucked into the sphere of  that Stones Throw –  Brainfeeder hip hop, and the influence is evident on the productions of Yoggyone.  Coming out of France, Mr. Yoggy1 doesn’t dissapoint.  


I’m trying to get Famille Bou Bess (who I’m currently working with) to ween on some  hip hop other than the obvious stuff like Tupac, Fiddy Pence, Dr. Dre.  Hearin’ Aid will do just nicely – offkey alternative shit.


Ear Conditioning / Chemical Specialist Program 12.05.09


  • The Roots + Lata Mageshkar / In The Music  
  • La Vagancia / Title Unknown
  • Los de Abajo / Actitud Calle
  • Moondog / Oo Debut
  • Hearin’ Aid / Title Unknown
  • Au Revoir Simone / Shadows – It’s A Fine Line Remix
  • Creation Rebel / Chemical Specialist 
  • Chris Rock / Obama
  • Yoggyone / Rhodes Interlude
  • King Midas Sound / Ting Dub
  • De La Soul / Stakes is High
  • Major Lazor / Hold The Line – Poirier Remix
  • Princes du Kuduru / Mwangole
  • Yoggyone / Harder and Harder featuring Kissey Asplund
  • King L Man / Huh….what?
  • El-P / Exceprts from We Are All Going To Burn In Hell MeggaMixx2 
  • Dr. Who Dat / Viberian Twilight (Lex Records) 
  • The Rootsman vs. Muslimgauze / Damascus
  • Kode 9 & The Spaceape / Nine


Ecucha Martes / Tuesday:  Radio Norte 89.4FM Tenerife  20h30;   Sunhole  22h00

Jueves / Thursday: Planet Radio  23h00 GMT

Update:  Just got wind of a remix by Jneiro Jarel (aka Dr. Who Dat?) for TV on the Radio. It’s here