Adrian Maxwell Sherwood (born 1958, London, England) is an English record producer specializing in the genres of dub music and EDM. Sherwood has created a distinctive production style based around applying dub effects and dub mixing techniques to EDM tracks as well as mainstream songs.
Sherwood has worked extensively with a variety of reggae artists as well as the Tackhead musicians Keith LeBlanc, Doug Wimbish and Skip McDonald. Sherwood has remixed tracks by Coldcut, Depeche Mode, Woodentops, Primal Scream, Pop Will Eat Itself, Sinéad O'Connor, and Skinny Puppy.
As a producer, he has worked with a variety of record labels. He is most closely associated, however, with On-U Sound Records, which he founded in 1979. (Read more at Wikipedia.)
Links To Peel
“I have long been wary of the reputations of producers – since I saw a photograph of Phil Spector’s haircut (incorporating, naturally, Phil himself) – but am happy to admit devotion to Sherwood.”
(John Peel, Observer, 1988-11-20)
Peel was a long-time fan of Adrian Sherwood and played his earliest production work for reggae artists Prince Far I and Creation Rebel in the late 1970s. In a 2012 interview, Sherwood recalled a big breakthrough for the debut Creation Rebel LP 'Dub From Creation', recorded with Dennis Bovell as engineer:
"We put it out and were selling it out the back of our car. ... I was sat with Prince Far I one day in London listening to the radio and John Peel said, 'Listen everyone I am going to play you the best dub album I’ve ever heard from this country' and then played three tracks back to back from the Creation Rebel album. He even left the gap going in between the tunes and didn’t speak for the whole three tracks. My phone started going mad."
The DJ also played tracks from the first album released on Sherwood’s On-U Sound label. This appeared in early 1981 under the name New Age Steppers, a dub-flavoured post-punk studio collective that featured vocalists such as Ari Up of the Slits and Mark Stewart of the Pop Group; Sherwood later produced their only Peel session.
The DJ gave airtime to a wide range of Sherwood-helmed On-U Sound releases – many with overlapping lineups of musicians, sometimes billed as On-U Sound System – including those of label mainstays such as Dub Syndicate and African Head Charge, as well as Tackhead, who counted Sherwood as a member (credited as “mixologist”). Lesser known combinations include London Underground, Enemy Within and Playgroup. Peel was also hugely enthusiastic about the producer’s football-centered Barmy Army project, describing the ‘Sharp As A Needle’ single as “the only football record of merit yet released”.
In the reggae field, Singers & Players were another loose On-U Sound umbrella grouping for top talent, with vocalists including Prince Far I, Bim Sherman, Congo Ashanti Roy and Mikey Dread. Peel also featured releases from Pressure Sounds, the reggae reissue label Sherwood co-founded in 1995, as well as tracks from the 1987 Sherwood-produced Lee Perry / Dub Syndicate LP 'Time Boom X De Devil Dead'.
In 1988, the DJ wrote:
“Sherwood and his collaborators have produced work of unrivalled excellence. … Working with some of the most forceful musicians in Jamaica, New York and Britain, Adrian Sherwood creates atmospheres that vary from the liberating – the reggae has a matchless sense of space – to claustrophobic.”
Away from the dub-heavy world of On-U Sound, Sherwood’s outside production and remix work extended as far as studio duties for Peel’s all-time top band, the Fall, and Robert Wyatt. At the other end of the musical spectrum, Sherwood also did remixes for one of Peel's least favourite ensembles, Simply Red, whose early lineup included remnants of the Mothmen, a former On-U Sound act. Meanwhile, in the field of industrial music, Sherwood's skills were in high demand among Peel session bands such as Cabaret Voltaire and Einstürzende Neubauten.
Early in 2003, Peel played tracks from Sherwood’s debut solo album, 'Never Trust A Hippy'.
In a 2015 guest column for Q magazine, the producer recalled the support of Peel not only for himself but for a whole generation of post-punk musicians who were influenced by reggae:
"Last mention for me must go to the person who championed so many and gave me the confidence and encouragement to crack on and who aired the whole Punky Reggae Party on national radio, night after night after night – the late, great John Peel."
On 27 March 2021, the official Twitter account of On-U Sound tweeted:
"I really, really have to thank the great DJ John Peel. He played this [Pay It All Back] and really championed us. Even gave us [New Age Steppers] a session. Great man..great taste. Maximum respect…."
Festive Fifty Entries
- None under own name. See Barmy Army.
- None under own name. Credited as producer and engineer of the New Age Steppers only session, recorded 1983-06-12, first broadcast 18 August 1983.
Other Shows Played
(This list was compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive. Please add more information if known.)
- Solo release
- 15 January 2003: X-Planation (LP - Never Trust A Hippy) Real World Records
- 25 March 2003: X-Planation (Album: Never Trust A Hippy) Real World Records
- Peel 031 (BFBS) (1986-03-13) Sudden Sway: sINg sONg (No. 3-Adrian Sherwood Remix) (7") Blanco Y Negro)
- 13 May 1986: Fats Comet: Free Free (v/a 7" flexi - Unique Mixes From Adrian Sherwood) Hi-Fi
- 22 September 1986: Woodentops: Everyday Living (Remixed By Adrian Sherwood) (7") Rough Trade
- 09 December 1997: Blur Death Of A Party (Adrian Sherwood Remix)
- On U Sound System
- 02 April 1993: (Vs Pop Will Eat Itself Vs Gary Clail Vs Ranking Roger Vs Mighty Diamonds): Gimme Shelter (v/a album - Gimme Shelter) Food
- 10 April 1993 (BFBS): (Vs Pop Will Eat Itself Vs Gary Clail Vs Ranking Roger Vs Mighty Diamonds): Gimme Shelter (v/a album - Gimme Shelter) Food
On-U Sound compilations (also see linked artist pages)
- 20 December 1981 (BFBS): Mothmen: Afghani Dub (LP - Wild Paarty Sounds Volume One]) On-U Sound / Cherry Red
- 27 December 1981 (BFBS): Judy Nylon: The Dice (LP - Wild Paarty Sounds Volume One]) On-U Sound / Cherry Red
- 05 December 1984: Circuit: Loudspeaker (v/a LP - Pay It All Back Volume 1) On-U Sound
- Peel Early 1989: Lee Perry And Dub Syndicate: Train To Doomsville (v/a compilation album - Pay It All Back Volume 2) On-U Sound
- 04 January 1989 Prince Far I / Singers & Players: Water The Garden (v/a compilation album - Pay It All Back Volume 2) On-U Sound
- 24 March 1991: Barmy Army: Blue Moon (compilation album - Pay It All Back Vol 3) On-U Sounds
- 31 March 1991: Strange Parcels: Hearts Desire (Album, Comp.: Pay It All Back Volume 3) On-U Sounds
- 06 April 1991: Bim Sherman: Nightmare (v/a album - Pay It All Back Volume Three) On-U Sound
- 07 April 1991: Martin Frederix: Ennio (V/a album - Pay It All Back Volume Three) On-U Sound
- 20 April 1991: Barmy Army: Blue Moon (compilation album - Pay It All Back Vol 3) On-U Sound
- 21 April 1991: Strange Parcels: Disconnection (compilation - Pay It All Back Volume 3) On-U Sound
- 28 April 1991: Dub Syndicate: Stoned Immaculate (album - Pay It All Back Volume 3) On-U Sound
- 03 May 1991 (BFBS): Gary Clail: False Leader (Parts 1 & 2) (v/a album - Pay It All Back Volume Three) On-U Sound
- 28 November 2002: 2 Bad Card: Noise Polluters (LP - Chainstore Massacre) On-U Sound (JP: "Produced by Adrian Sherwood ... a compilation LP which is On-U Sound Records, and how nice it is to be able to type that into a running order again too.")
- 03 December 2002: Asian Dub Foundation: Cyberabad (Dub) (CD - Chainstore Massacre) On-U Sound
- 17 December 2002: Little Axe: One Drop Blues (LP - Chainstore Massacre) On-U Sound
- London Underground
- 15 October 1981: Train Of Thought (7") Situation Two SIT 9
- 22 October 1981 (BFBS): Train Of Thought (7") Situation Two SIT 9
- 12 November 1981 (BBC World Service): Train Of Thought (7") Situation Two SIT 9
- 24 February 1982: Conspiracy (10" - Watching West Indians In The Cold) On-U Sound
- 11 March 1982: Strange Things/Conspiracy (10" - Watching West Indians In The Cold) On-U Sound
- 06 February 1983 (BFBS): Train Of Thought (7") Situation Two SIT 9
- 26 February 1983 (BFBS): You Don't Know (album - At Home With The London Underground) On-U Sound ON-U LP 22
- 02 March 1983: You Don't Know (album - At Home With The London Underground) On-U Sound ON-U LP 22
- 16 March 1983 (BFBS): Watch Your Step (album - At Home With The London Underground) On-U Sound ON-U LP 22
- 09 May 1983: unknown
- 01 October 1983 (BFBS): Train Of Thought (7") Situation Two SIT 9
- 15 November 1983: Between The Lines (7") On-U Sound
- 19 November 1983 (BFBS): Between The Lines (7") On-U Sound ON-U S 03
- 29 November 1983: Bleach It (album - Current Affairs Session) On-U Sound
- 07 January 1984 (BFBS): Between The Lines (7") On-U Sound ON-U S 03
- 17 February 1982: Hoggs Might Fly (album - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter One) Cherry Red B RED 2
- 21 February 1982 (BFBS): Epic Sound Battle (album - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter One) Cherry Red B RED 2
- 24 February 1982: No Speed Limit (album - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter One) Cherry Red B RED 2
- 14 March 1982 (BFBS): Crunch (album - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter One) Cherry Red B RED 2
- 16 March 1982: Crunch (album - Epic Sound Battles Chapter One) Cherry Red B RED 28
- 15 April 1982: Hoggs Might Fl (album - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter One) Cherry Red B RED 2
- Peel 1983 Bits And Pieces: Going Overdrawn (12") Cherry Red 12 CHERRY 71
- 05 November 1983 (BFBS): Going Overdrawn (12" - Going Overdrawn / Forty Winks) Cherry Red 12 CHERRY 71
- 01 December 1983: Night Shift (LP - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter Two) Cherry Red
- 07 December 1983: Squeek Squawk (LP - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter Two) Cherry Red
- 08 December 1983: Going For A Song (LP - Epic Sound Battles - Chapter Two) Cherry Red
- 21 December 1983 (BFBS): Going For A Song (album - Epic Sound Battles Chapter Two) Cherry Red B RED 52 / On-U Sound ON-U LP26
- 09 November 1989: (Peel plays a Tackhead track after an earlier plug for an uninspiring Knebworth 90 lineup: "Our engineer was suggesting that it might be a good idea to get Adrian Sherwood to mix down the tapes of the forthcoming Knebworth entertainment. I think I might listen to it then.")
- Best Of Peel Vol 12 (1990): (JP: "I wish you could see me tonight. I think I look, well, at my loveliest, actually, in a white T-shirt that says 'King Tubby' on it and was given to me by Adrian Sherwood. I only mention this so that you'll know I am actually a friend of the stars.")
- Enemy Within
- African Head Charge
- Dub Syndicate
- Ministry: Sherwood produced their second LP, 'Twitch', while band leader Al Jourgensen played keyboards on the Barmy Army album version of 'Sharp As A Needle'.
- December 2002 (Peel's Record Box): Chainstore Massacre (On-U Sound)
- Steve Barker: The presenter of the 'On The Wire' radio show has been a strong supporter of Sherwood for many years.
- Official Website
- On-U Sound In The Area
- BlackRhinoMusic: Sherwood interview, including memories of Peel (2021)
- John Peel: ‘Hubble, bubble dub on the double’ Observer, 1988-11-20, accessed via Guardian and Observer Digital Archive.
- The Pressure Sounds site credits production of the 'Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Chapter I' LP to Prince Far I "aided and abetted by Adrian Sherwood." Peel featured the track 'Long Life' from the album on his show of 20 December 1978, as well others from subsequent LPs in the same series.
- racketrackeet.co.uk. In the Observer article, Peel also suggests he played tracks from 'Dub From Creation', which was released in 1978, although there is no record of this in currently available show tracklistings.
- See Observer article.
- See Observer article.
- Material for the 'Slates' EP in 1981 and the 'Extricate' album in 1990. In a later interview, Sherwood described MES and co. as “completely into anti-production: no effects, all dry.”
- His remixes for Simply Red are listed at the skysaw site. The Mothmen's "Pay Attention" album was the second LP released by On-U Sound.