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ON-U SOUND

New Age Steppers

Action Battlefield

    The quickfire follow-up to the New Age Stepper’s self-titled debut, this set was also issued in 1981. A perhaps more melodic and accessible record than its predecessor, the bulk of the album is versions of tunes sourced from reggae imports of the period, featuring radical interpretations of songs by Bim Sherman, Horace Andy and B.B. Seaton.

    Ari Up of the Slits takes more of a frontwoman role here, singing lead on most tracks, and bringing a lot of her own indomitable personality to bear on the material, even breaking briefly into German for her take on “Problems”! It also features the vocal debut of a very young Neneh Cherry on “My Love”. The rhythms are rock solid, laid down by the crack team of Eskimo Fox, Crucial Tony and George Oban, having honed their skills on sides by Creation Rebel and Aswad, with everything expertly dubbed through the mixing desk of Adrian Sherwood.

    First time available on vinyl for 40 years, includes download card and printed inner featuring new sleevenotes and interviews by Oli Warwick. 


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    New Age Steppers

    Foundation Steppers

      The third New Age Steppers arrived in 1983 and marked a sea change in approach, a warmer sounding record than the two thrilling-but-abrasive LPs that had preceded it.

      Part of this was down to frontwoman Ari Up moving to Jamaica and instigating proceedings with a session at the legendary Channel One with Style Scott and a JA horn section, before bringing the tapes back to London for Adrian Sherwood to work on. The other big factor was bringing in Bim Sherman to step up to the mic on several tracks, after interpreting some of his material on the previous albums. His distinctive croon works as the perfect foil to Ari’s own vocal takes, and the resulting album is perhaps the closest the collective got to laying down an album that is identifiably roots reggae, albeit still breaking tradition with colourful synth tones and a post-punk production sensibility.

      First time available on vinyl since original release, includes download card and printed inner featuring new sleevenotes and interviews by Oli Warwick.



      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      New Age Steppers

      New Age Steppers

        The landmark first album on the On-U Sound label, this self-titled debut announced a gathering of the tribes: producer Adrian Sherwood bringing together members of the Slits, the Pop Group, the Flying Lizards and the Raincoats and getting them to collaborate with the likes of the Roots Radics’ Style Scott, Creation Rebel’s Crucial Tony, and Aswad’s George Oban to form a potent post-punk/dub fusion.

        The albums two highest peaks are brilliantly realised interpretations of Jamaican classics - Junior Byles’ “Fade Away” and Bim Sherman’s “Love Forever”, Ari Up’s vocal transporting the dread warning and lovers rock vibes to the icy hallways of early-80s London squatland. Elsewhere Mark Stewart marshalls an early version of his “Crazy Dreams and High Ideals” (later re-versioned with the Maffia), music journalist Vivien Goldman voices caustic album closer “Private Armies” (originally a b-side to her Launderette single), and all sorts of strange noises and rhythmic murk bridge the gaps, the instrumentals falling somewhere between a late night studio session at Channel One and the kinds of experimental soundscapes being explored at the time by Industrial Records.

        A certified classic of the era back on wax for the first time in 40 years and an essential addition to any post-punk record collection. Includes download card and printed inner with new sleevenotes and interviews by Oli Warwick.



        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        New Age Steppers

        Love Forever

          Love Forever was issued posthumously in 2012, following the untimely passing of Ari Up two years before.Like the preceding New Age Steppers album from 1983, it was started in Jamaica and completed in London, producer Adrian Sherwood wishing to complete the work they had started and to pay appropriate tribute to his longtime friend.

          The original Steppers records were heavily influenced by the Jamaican music coming into the UK on import 12”s at the time, and Love Forever updates that approach, with nods to dancehall and bashment. Other tracks such as single “My Nerves” recall Ari Up’s work with The Slits, as well as more modern firebrands such as Atari Teenage Riot or Le Tigre. Dub Syndicate provide the backing on the irreverent “The Schiesse Song”, there are left turns into electro and harmony-laden fusion-pop, and final track “The Death Of The Trees” is a fitting instrumental elegy by Sherwood to his departed collaborator. 


          New Age Steppers

          Avant Gardening

            Rare dubs, version excursions and unreleased tracks from the vault 1980 - 1983.

            In the tradition of archival On-U Sound compilations of recent years such as the Return Of The Crocodile and Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi sets for African Head Charge; and the Displaced Masters LP of early Dub Synidcate rarities, we’ve gone through the tape vaults to put together this special record of unreleased versions and rarities from the white hot early days of the New Age Steppers, the group that launched the On-U Sound label by appearing on both the first single and album.

            Highlights include a restored track from their infamous and long-lost 1983 John Peel session (an ebullient cover of Atlantic Starr’s “Send For Me” featuring a beautifully spirited vocal performance from the much-missed Ari Up), the Jah Woosh deejay cut of “Love Forever”, some rare dubs previously only available on Japanese import CDs, all bookended by two very different takes on Chaka Khan’s “Some Love”. An essential set for collectors of post-punk, dub and other outernational sounds. 


            FORMAT INFORMATION

            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            New Age Steppers

            Stepping Into A New Age 1980 - 2012

              An anthology set of the group that launched the On-U Sound label with the first album and single, New Age Steppers were a collective with an evolving line-up, built around the driving forces of Ari Up (The Slits) and producer Adrian Sherwood. Their records featured contributions from several singers and players from the UK post-punk vanguard such as the Pop Group, The Raincoats and The Flying Lizards; colliding with established movers from the reggae world such as Bim Sherman, Style Scott and George Oban. Contains the following discs: New Age Steppers (1981), Action Battlefield (1981), Foundation Steppers (1983), Love Forever (2012), Avant Gardening (a new compilations of rare dubs, version excursions and unreleased tracks from the vault) plus 32 page book containing photos, ephemera and a new sleevenotes by Oli Warwick that trace the history of the group via conversations with Adrian Sherwood and other contributors. 

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              5xCD Info: 5CD boxset, each disc in an individual wallet housed in a rigid slipcase with 32 page book

              African Head Charge

              Drumming Is A Language 1990 - 2011

                A companion set to the acclaimed Environmental Holes & Drastic Tracks set issued in 2016 that anthologised the early years of African Head Charge, this picks up the story in 1990 with what many fans regard as the band’s masterpiece, Songs Of Praise, plus 3 more studio albums, a ton of bonus tracks (including an entire disc of early 90s outtakes) and 36 page booklet. Each disc in an individual reverse board card wallet housed in a high quality outer slipcase. 

                STAFF COMMENTS

                says: The bedrock might still be provided by master Nyabinghi percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and spiky dub genius Adrian Sherwood but the music in this set expands on their earlier material, bringing greater coherence to their sound and journeying further and deeper into dub. Psychedelic Africa at it's finest, every bit as essential as its predecessor.

                African Head Charge

                Churchical Chant Of The Lyabinghi

                  A unique album of outtakes from the classic Songs Of Praise and In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land albums, compiled by On-U archivist Patrick Dokter from the original tapes and expertly sequenced to work as an immersive listening experience. A companion piece to the acclaimed Return Of The Crocodile set from 2016 that took the listener on a version excursion through the early years of the group. These are the dubbier and more out-there experiments mixed down whilst Adrian Sherwood was shaping the sound of the albums. Bubbling percussion lines skitter across the stereo spectrum, ghostly voices echo inside the machine and mangled guitar riffs beam down from Mars, whilst staying rooted in the tough tribal rhythms that form the bedrock of the AHC sound, this is music for the head and feet, take heed!  Mastered by King Kevin Metcalfe, comes with download card for full contents plus double-sided poster insert containing an extensive new interview with African Head Charge mainman Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah telling the story of his early life. 


                  Singers & Players

                  Revenge Of The Underdog

                  The second album by the loose On-U Sound collective, originally released in 1982. Featuring Prince Far I, Bim Sherman, Jah Woosh, plus members of The Roots Radics, The Slits and Glaxo Babies.

                  Heavy dread vibes, earthquaking dub and classic deejay chatter, recorded in the flash, heat and studio experimentation of post-punk London.

                  “There really is not a single weak track here. Sherwood spins his glistening web of intrusive, hyperactive magic, a production approach that would never work for anyone else but almost always does for him. No reggae collection should be without this one.” - All Music

                  Re-cut at dubplates & mastering in Berlin for maximum bass pressure. Includes a 24” x 12” fold-out poster insert and digital download card.

                  Various Artists

                  Sherwood At The Controls Volume 1: 1979 - 1984

                  A compilation of early tracks produced or remixed by the legendary Adrian Sherwood, head of the pioneering On-U Sound record label. It’s an eclectic blend of post-punk, mutant disco, reggae, dub, funk and electro and features the likes of The Slits, Prince Far I, The Fall and Mark Stewart. The set includes 6 tracks that have never been reissued in any format, and 2 completely unreleased tracks from the On-U vaults. Extensive sleeve notes that tell the story of each track alongside photos and more.

                  Adrian Sherwood is a name most commonly associated with dub reggae, particularly his own leftfield version of the sound that he developed over the 80s and 90s, having been mentored by the likes of Prince Far I, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Dennis Bovell. This compilation, however, seeks to highlight another side of his musical story: in his capacity as a DJ and live sound engineer Sherwood also connected with the likes of the Clash and Public Image Limited, making links between punk-funk (the Pop Group , Medium Medium , Maximum Joy, Shriekback), post-punk (the Slits, the Fall, Annie Anxiety) and dub / reggae (Prince Far I, Singers & Players, African Head Charge). The cross-fertilisation of the era really shines through here (for ‘Private Armies’ Vivien Goldman assembled a group that included members of PIL, the Raincoats, Aswad, Flying Lizards, along with Robert Wyatt), which worked perfectly with Sherwood’s dubwise approach to versioning tracks with a desire to experiment in the studio and push musical boundaries.

                  This is the first release in an extensive On-U Sound reissue campaign that will be coming out over the next few years.



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