VA – Trevor Jackson Presents: Science Fiction Dancehall Classics (On-U) Review

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By Rave Dobbyn on October 12, 2015

On the back of his phenomenal Metal Dance collections of industrial and post-punk tracks (if you do not have these you need them in your arsenal), DJ/producer/ graphic designer Trevor Jackson has compiled an extensive retrospective of British producer Adrian Sherwood’s influential On-U Sound label. The result, Science Fiction Dancehall Classics, is another spectacular audio document of an enormously creative period for underground music.

While primarily known for dub reggae projects (African Head Charge; Dub Syndicate), On-U brought together musicians from many different backgrounds; the rhythm section for Sugarhill Records played on numerous On-U releases, and punk/ post-punk musicians (Mark Stewart (of the Pop Group) and Ari Up (of the Slits)) played important parts in shaping the label’s sound. This collection starts out by showcasing Sherwood’s signature dub sound, which combined stripped-down, skeletal rhythms with booming echo bouncing off the walls and bizarre sound effects that seemed to come out of nowhere at random. The compilation eventually moves into more post-punk territory, and the label’s more hip-hop/electro side (which is what initially attracted Jackson to the label), and one of the label’s flagship acts, Tackhead, best represented its fusion of hip-hop, dub, post-punk, and early industrial. The collection includes a few early recordings by artists who would go on to find commercial success with more polished, radio-friendly material, (Shara Nelson (best known for singing on Massive Attack’s groundbreaking 1991 debut Blue Lines) and Neneh Cherry, whose minimal electro-disco cut “Dead Come Alive” sees its first ever release on this collection). Providing a well-rounded mix of accessible and familiar-sounding selections as well as far-beyond-leftfield oddities (Mark Stewart + the Maffia’s abrasive nine-minute collage “The Wrong Name and the Wrong Number (DJ Battle)).” A good way to sum up this extraordinary collection (as well as On-U Sound as a whole) would be the title of its penultimate track, Missing Brazilians’ “Quicksand Beach Party,” as it can be slippery and dangerous, but also fun and exciting.

  1. The Missing Brazilians – Ace of Wands [03:38]
  2. Dub Syndicate – Over Board [03:40]
  3. African Head Charge – Off the Beaten Track [05:03]
  4. Creation Rebel & New Age Steppers – Chemical Specialist [04:18]
  5. Suns of Arqa – Asian Rebel [05:02]
  6. New Age Steppers – Animal Space [05:39]
  7. Alan Pellay – Parasitic Machine [03:45]
  8. The Chicken Granny – Quit the Body [03:05]
  9. African Head Charge – Stebeni’s Theme [03:33]
  10. Neneh Cherry & the Circuit – Dead Come Alive [05:16]
  11. Atmosfear – When Tonight Is Over (Us Thunder Mix) [07:50]
  12. The Circuit – Loudspeaker (Alternate Version) [05:58]
  13. Fats Comet – Dee Jay’s Program [04:35]
  14. Tackhead – Now What? [06:40]
  15. Keith Leblanc – Move [03:18]
  16. Fats Comet – Dub Storm [08:35]
  17. Voice of Authority – Stopping and Starting [05:56]
  18. African Head Charge – Latin Temperament [03:28]
  19. Mark Stewart & the Maffia – The Wrong Name and the Wrong Number (DJ Battle) [09:15]
  20. Singers & Players – Kunta Kinte Dub [05:01]
  21. Bim Sherman – Melody Dub [03:46]
  22. Shara Nelson & the Circuit – Aiming at Your Heart Pt.2 [05:58]
  23. Playgroup – Forty Winks [07:25]
  24. Dub Syndicate – Drilling Equipment [05:29]
  25. New Age Steppers – Radial Drill [04:25]
  26. The Missing Brazilians – Quicksand Beach Party [05:09]
  27. Little Annie – 77 Emerging Strips [06:15]


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