Mad Professor

Ariwa Sounds: The Early Sessions

Image of Mad Professor - Ariwa Sounds: The Early Sessions
Record Label
Melodies International

About this item

Mad Professor, also known as Neil Fraser to his friends is renowned worldwide for his groundbreaking dub recordings, captivating live sets showcasing the creativity of dub sound engineers, and his collaborations with both reggae and non-reggae artists alike such as Lee Scratch Perry, Jah Shaka, Sade, The Orb, Massive Attack, Grace Jones and many more. Above all, he is celebrated for his prolific output in the genres of Dub, Lovers Rock, Reggae and more through his own Ariwa label and south London recording studio boasting an impressive catalog of over 300 releases, among other notable achievements. 

A few years back, we stumbled upon this outstanding Lovers Rock and Dub album which had a very unique raw sound and felt like a whole experience when listened to from start to finish. Alternate versions of the same tracks with different performers in varying styles, tape rewinds, it had us all wonder why it hadn’t gained wider recognition amongst Mad Professor's other releases. 

When we finally had the pleasure of meeting Neil at his recording studio, he revealed that this album was one of his earliest works. It was born out of a birthday gift from his wife—a four-track recorder that inspired him to venture into music-making after years of repairing and building electronics and audio equipment. When we asked him if he would be making music if not for that gift, he confessed that it was highly unlikely (!) 

Mad Professor further explained that this album, originally released in 1984, is a compilation of tracks recorded between 1979 and 1981, representing the nascent stages of his recording and production career, when the idea of establishing a studio and the Ariwa label were just beginning to take shape. He set up all his gear, including his first homemade four-track mixing desk, in the front room of his house in South London. With no prior studio experience, he positioned microphones where he thought they should fit and invited local musicians to collaborate. Errol Sly, Ranking Ann, Sergeant Pepper, Deborah Glasgow, Victor Cross, Sister Audrey, his backing band the Sane Inmates and a host of other talented local artists, some of whom would go on to become stalwarts in their respective genres, all contributed to this album, capturing the raw essence of Mad Professor and Ariwa's early sound. 


Matt says: Second-wave dub legend Mad Professor drops a raw lovers / dub project that harks back to the original sound of Ariwa. The bass weight alone is astonishing, but the songs crafted here are also killer and timeless. A future classic!


1. Errol Sly - Love In Your Heart
2. Ranking Ann - Moonlight Lover
3. Sergeant Pepper - It's You
4. Deborah Glasgow - My Thing 04:03
5. Victor Cross - Make Up
6. Sergeant Pepper - Special Brew
7. Rock A Way & Sister Audrey - It's A Shame
8. Mad Professor & Sane Inmates - Sitting Room Dub 

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