19 April 2005

On U Sound (ings)

Since Mark Stewart is playing in Bristol and I have absolutely no chance of going because we're about to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a new house, I thought I'd just simper and dwell a little...

I'd like to say I came across Mark via whiteout anti-funkathons of The Pop Group but it was his connection with the cheap On U Sound compilations that got me interested... for one thing, they were cheap and for a coupla quid you could dig some out from Acorn in Yeovil and glory in reggae that seemed above and beyond. Adrian Sherwood's white-boy take on dub must've turned on thousands of skeptical skinny teens to a whole genre that seemed (this is Somerset, remember) either a closed bud away from comprehension or somehow associated with Bob Marley...

Reggae, dubbed or otherwise, was a mystery to me; something that cropped up occasionally on The Beat b-sides or mentioned in Smash Hits interviews with Madness. The Slits was about as near as I got and that seemed somehow too white to be real. John Peel would play some but mostly I'd fastforward the recorded shows and just wait for the new Half Man Half Biscuit or Fall tracks.

Occasionally, I would use the word 'vibe' but I wasn't ever comfortable with it. And I never really understood what sensilimia was all about... for a start it took a long while to comprehend that this was somehow associated with the little blocks of hash we were starting to buy from the traveller's bus that parked outside Yeovil College on Fridays, dispensing drugs like (Parachute)Boots the Chemist.

In fact, the first time drugs and dub came together was the first time I ever smoked my own dope. I'd bought an eighth off some guy with more hair than human sensibilities (later I found he was 'best mates' with Paddy Ashdown's son so this is almost topical) and realised that I had no idea what to do with it. It didn't look like much, so me and B stole into someone's garden shed, melted it down and put the whole lot into what never became known as a Sherborne Sausage.

About 15 mins later we were sitting in a pub, listening to Fergal Sharkey(!) and watching Meat Beat Manifesto videos, eyes draining from our skulls like a Dali painting, both wishing we were somewhere inside time and out of here. Eventually we walked (imagine the crows in that 'I'll be your dog' commercial)
back to the always mythical 'free house' near the town centre where someone played Dub reggae really loud, apparently intending to transport us into the Rastafarian mind-set. We listened for a while, began to understand the term 'zonked' stared madly at our own shoes and then insisted he put on Tangerine Dream instead.

It took a while after that before I really embraced dub again but the On U Sound boys and girls got me wondering and eventually lead to King Tubby and Scratch Perry and and all the usual suspects. I think those fruiting days of investigation have kept me faithful to those original compilations, forever dreaming that one day I may even buy a stereo that could accomodate them.

Never happened. Maybe when we get the new house.

Here's some On U Sounds via the archive at Dub.org:

New Age Steppers - Not a Nobody

Mark Stewart and the Maffia - Hysteria (remix)

Jeb Loy Nichols - As the Rain (Adrian Sherwood remix)


the X said...

Ooh, great great great-
thanks a bunch, mate! :)

Psychbloke said...

A new house!?!
Mrs Bloke won't be able to leave it at that!

GTTRBRKZ said...

A new house?!

How much do you bloody people get paid, anyway?!

GTTRBRKZ said...

I'd also like to take a moment to mention that I MIGHT be the supporting DJ at Venetian Snares' gig at the Toucan club in Cardiff on May 19th. If so, I'll probably get a couple of extra places on the guestlist and thought I'd offer them to my fellow Idiots first. Anyone interested, let me know. If not I'll just take along a couple of my useless mates who know fuck all about fuck all.

farmer glitch said...

Nice post - I also got into the old-dub-style through Acorn ... recently I was lucky enough to hang-out with sometime ON-U archivist and On the Wire founder Steve Barker who currently resides up in Beijing... he has single-handed turned China onto dub - which for a punk/hardcore obsessed youth aint bad going !...

come on now - ya got to come to this gig - house move or no - it is a non-misser !!

mark e said...


not a big fan of marks rants normally

- and his excess has blown up friends of mine stereos -

but this line up is a total must ..

just gotta persuade my beloved to let me damage my ears for a few hours ..

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