DJ and producer Adrian Sherwood has long been at the forefront of the British dub scene as the founder of the influential On-U Sound label. One of his most treasured relationships over the years has been with Jamaican icon Lee “Scratch” Perry. Here, Sherwood explains their first momentous meeting:
“Our mutual friend, the radio DJ Steve Barker, first introduced me to Lee in the mid-1980s. He said, ‘Look, you guys have got to get together.’ Steve was in Lancashire, but we agreed to meet at Southern Studios. Lee turned up with Rudy, who is married to Max Romeo’s sister. Rudy was driving him around, and he turned up with some multitracks and said, ‘Put these on.’ So I put them on, and they were him doing cover versions of Bob Marley songs. I think he had a real beef with Bob Marley at that point. I said, ‘Hang on a minute, check some of these rhythms.’
“Style had recorded some rhythms in Jamaica that I’d been overdubbing and processing in London. I also had some other rhythms that I’d recorded with Style and the crew in London. So I played them to Lee. Lee loved them and said, ‘Get the mike,’ and that was the start of the Time Boom X De Devil Dead album, which we spent a year making. We’ve gone on to work together a lot since, and I’m particularly proud of Rainford, which I think is the most intimate album that Lee has ever made and one of my best productions.”
Sherwood worked with Perry on Rainford and another album released in 2019, Heavy Rain. To celebrate both releases and the duo’s long-standing partnership, the English producer put together a playlist spanning the 35 years they’ve worked together, in which they’ve defined—and continually redefined—the sound and feel of dub music.
Photo Credit: Kishi Yamamoto