Adrian Sherwood is a true UK dub pioneer, and his production credits double up as a guide to some of the most interesting underground artists around during his career. Sherwood At The Controls / Volume 2: 1985 - 1990 compiles 16 tracks that Sherwood worked on, including Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Mark Stewart, Ministry, and plenty more premium material.
Vinyl Double LP £16.99 ONULP132
2LP on On-U Sound inc. Mark Stewart, Ministry, Tackhead, African Head Charge, Bim Sherman, Dub Syndicate, Pankow, Keith LeBlanc etc.
CD £11.99 ONUCD132
CD on On-U Sound in jewel with slipcase inc. Mark Stewart, Ministry, Tackhead, African Head Charge, Bim Sherman, Dub Syndicate, Pankow, Keith LeBlanc etc.
8/10 Thomas Spice 29th July 2017
The second volume of this Sherwood retrospective attracted a middling review from the normally peerless reviews of RA's Andy Beta. As much as he is entitled to do that I felt somewhat aggrieved that his 2.9 out of 5 was based on a distaste for the growling doberman that exists at the core of many of the tracks featured here. Allow me to continue the canine analogy by saying that the first volume embodied the spirit of the Komondor, a shaggy dreaded Hungarian sheepdog, showcasing the preponderance in Sherwood's early production life towards the dubwise and low slung. In my world both of these hounds have a place, although the dubby doggy of volume 1 would have a place on the sofa with me whilst the muscular snarl of aggro dog in volume 2 would have a kennel in the garden.
Partly fuelled by the grief of losing Far-I and partly by technological exploration mid 80's Sherwood productions moved away from their heavy leanings on the jamaican dub traditions and became more aligned with the european synth pop and body music movements, as well as the NY hip-hop experiments. Rigid computerised drum grooves, sequencer patterns and sampled stabs replaced the machinations of the mixing desk as Sherwood's favoured track components. This is not to say that the dub techniques or experimentalism that characterised Sherwoods earlier period were completely divested. "The Value of Nothing" by Flux sees an uptempo thrust of nyabinghi percussion underpinned with a strident backbeat overlaid with washes reverberated electronic flotsam.
The overriding theme however is one that sees Sherwood linking with acts from new musical enclaves. Italian EBM act Pankow have their funky electro track "Girls & Boys" given the Sherwood mixing treatment, the spacial dimensions of dub reggae reiterated to create a perfectly crisp slice of body music. Sherwood's remix of Rinf performs a remarkable feat, reshaping the highly overwrought vocal performance of the orginal in to a heady fug of echo riding over a powerful downtempo groove with grinding percussion and rubbery bass.
The latter third of the comp sees a fleeting return of the more familiar Jamaican sounds with Bim Sherman, Lee Perry and Bonjo Noah's African Head Charge all featuring. Whilst this holds with the chronological integrity of the compliatins it does feel a little strange to return to stroke the shaggy mane of the komondor once again after holding the chain of the doberman.
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