On-U Sound Records discography
On-U Sound Records has been the label and main banner for Adrian Sherwood production work since 1980 and is his follow up imprint to the short-lived Hitrun Records label. This discography is effectively a re-incarnation of Culf and Richard Davies' well known Home Game On-U Sound catalogue.
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The release list and order of items presented here is that of the On-U Sound catalogue as conceived, i.e. allocated an On-U item release number. This means in practice that some releases haven't actually ever appeared on On-U Sound Records itself or even specifically carried their On-U catalogue number! Licensing of material by individual artists, for example to BMG, Mute, EMI and Mantra, remains commonplace to give the artists greater exposure - the On-U publicity 'machine' having often lacked the capital to do the job fully itself.
On-U Sound catalogue numbers: a brief history
To start off with, On-U Sound was a fully fledged record label putting out most of its own records and at least having a go at doing its own publicity. As a result, in the early days and for quite a few years, a fairly regimented catalogue numbering system for its products was stuck to.
In recent times though, as On-U Sound has become more of a production house and less of a real label releasing its own goods, the need to allocate its output its own actual or conceptual catalogue numbers has diminished considerably. As a result, especially for many of its more modern releases, though they are On-U Sound productions through and through, some are not included here on technical grounds. However and of course, they are still listed within the discographies of the acts that recorded them. The other artifact of this change has been the perceived more recent laxness in the way new releases are numbered, as detailed below.
1980-1988: The early years
The On-U catalogue numbering system has undergone a number of changes in policy over the years. The original LP album cataloguing system starting at LP 1 worked well until the release of 'Pay It All Back Volume 2' in 1988. Here, the UK vinyl album received the catalogue number ON-U LP42 and the first UKCD was given formally the number ON-U CD1. However, it was *actually* labelled ON-U LP42CD - and so begins the confusion!
1989-1997: The arrival of CDs
From then on, for a number of years in the late 80s and early 90s, the two numbering systems for CDs and LPs ran independently with no particular connection between them, with a number of CD format-only compilation albums (e.g. the African Head Charge 'Great Vintage' volumes) obviously not being given an 'LP' number classification at all. Eventually, it was decided to merge the two systems so that all new releases from then on would be given the same number on all formats but with different prefixes (e.g. 2 Badcard's 'Hustling Ability' appeared as ON-U LP 78 and ON-U CD 78). This policy continued for new releases until towards the end of the 1990s.
1998-2000: 'Master Recordings' reissues
Alongside this, there have been a large number of album reissues of older material (particularly in the 'Master Recordings' series), the emphasis here being simply to make them available again, often for the first time on CD. On these reissues, the catalogue numbering system of the original vinyl issue was largely followed, so for example the CD issue of the New Age Steppers' self-titled first album (originally ON-U LP 1) was classified ON-U CD 0001.
Within this series, there were also two compilations of material from the early On-U 'Disco Plate' singles, Disco Plates Collection Volume 1 and Disco Plates Collection Volume 2, which were allocated catalogue numbers (ON-U CD 0012 and ON-U CD 0054 respectively) that effectively filled two gaps in the original 'LP' cataloguing system left unallocated or given to releases that never appeared.
Actual CD releases from this period that had been numbered in the 'LP' catalogue number system, or had a direct vinyl edition numbered under the 'LP' system, are listed fully in the 'LP' section. The remaining CD-only format releases, which were given an 'independent' CD catalogue number, then formed exclusively the 'CD' series. However...
2001-2007: Relaunches and Sound Boy
The most recent developments in catalogue numbering policy were kicked-off at the time of the label's late 1990s 'Master Recordings' CD re-issues and subsequent 2002 label relaunch. At this time, the numbering sequence for new releases became based primarily around the CD format (vinyl pressings by then being far less common and often non-existent) and the numbering sequence was re-started at ON-U CD 1000. Therefore, from this point, all new album releases in this discography appear in the 'CD' album series rather than in the 'LP' album series (irrespective of whether there is also vinyl pressing). This obviously leaves many arbitrary gaps in both series.
The 2002 'relaunch' also saw the formation of the subsidiary label Sound Boy, which for a while, took over the issuing of 'home made', non-album releases from On-U Sound itself. However, due to circumstances beyond its control, Sound Boy was forced to wind-up in 2004, and singles are once again being issued on On-U Sound.
2008 to date: Law and disorder
Adding to the confusion, in 2008, after yet another label re-launch, several of the new releases that followed were given catalogue numbers duplicating earlier releases. In these cases, wherever their catalogue numbers are quoted, a "(1)", "(2)", etc. has been added as a suffix to distinguish them apart and indicate which was allocated first. On a related note, for reasons detailed elsewhere, there are two 'ON-U CD 1000's that, despite having completely different track lists, are technically the same release with the same title. They are distinguished apart by the suffixes ":1" and ":2".
On top of this, 2010 saw a CD re-issue of African Head Charge's 'Songs Of Praise' album ('LP50') numbered as ON-U CD9013 and the UKCD edition of their 'Vision Of A Psychedelic Africa' album numbered as ON-U CD9014 for reasons that are not clear. In the most recent and perverse twist to the tale, the UKLP editions of Lee Perry's and Adrian Sherwood's 'Mighty Upsetter' and 'Dub Setter' albums (officially ...1001(2) and ...1006, respectively) appeared carrying different sleeve catalogue numbers and vinyl matrix numbers (neither of which directly relate to the numbering of their UKCD equivalents)!
After many many years of 10" and 12" releases being catalogued distinctly as 'disco plates' (in the ON-U DPxx series), and 7" singles in the ON-U Sxx series, these lineages seemed to be abandoned in 2012, with further such releases being integrated into the previously album-only 'CD' numbering system. This meant that since ON-U xx1020, this number series has comprised consecutively-numbered albums, EPs AND singles - each release simply being prefixed to specify its type: LP, CD, VS ('vinyl single')... However, even this hasn't been carried out systematically (there being both an ON-U CD1021 and an ON-U VS1021, and ON-U EP1023 being technically mis-catalogued by On-U Sound as 'ON-U LP1023'). Though the numbering systems for the different types of release have now been merged into one, they remain separately listed by their type in the various parts of this discography for consistency.
So we're mostly up-to-date. Now that we're very much into the era of music downloads, it remains to be seen just how far On-U Sound will venture into this delivery format and break free from the concept of albums and indeed physical releases. For now at least, download-only releases from On-U Sound remain very few (there's just one at the moment actually!) and so far they are just being treated as virtual items in the 'CD' numbering series. With time of course, this may have to change, so this is just for now.
In common with the other label discographies, tracks given a [Rhythm xxx] notation link to the corresponding rhythm in the Rhythm Directory but the Rhythm Directory only links back to it here if it doesn't appear in any of the non label-oriented discographies. If the item also appears in a non-label discography then the Rhythm Directory links to the track in its listing there preferentially.
All releases feature AMS except where stated.