The Early Sessions

06/10/2023Melodies International Reissues Early Lovers Rock Recordings By Iconic Dub Sound Engineer Mad Professor

Riding the recent wave of top-tier reissues, today we bring you this ace compilation of early Ariwa Sounds dub and lovers rock recordings by the iconic Guayanese-born British dub music producer and sound engineer Neil Fraser, better known as Mad Professor. Originally released in 1984 on his own Ariwa Sounds imprint, these are some of his earliest works recorded between 1979 and 1981. This collection in particular, came to the ears of London-based reissue label Melodies International, who subsequently reached out to Fraser eager to glimpse behind the curtain:  

"A few years back, we stumbled upon this outstanding Lovers Rock and Dub album which had a very unique raw sound and felt like a whole experience when listened to from start to finish. Alternate versions of the same tracks with different performers in varying styles, tape rewinds, it had us all wonder why it hadn’t gained wider recognition amongst Mad Professor's other releases", the release notes read. 

Fraser, who throughout his career has collaborated with the who-of-who of the international reggae circuit and beyond – i.e. Lee Scratch Perry, Jah Shaka, Sade, The Orb, Massive Attack and Grace Jones to name a few – was happy to provide some context. These recordings were actually the early product of "a birthday gift from his wife, a four-track recorder that inspired him to venture into music-making after years of repairing and building electronics and audio equipment," he revealed. A gift that quite possibly got him into producing in the first place. 

"He set up all his gear, including his first homemade four-track mixing desk, in the front room of his house in South London. With no prior studio experience, he positioned microphones where he thought they should fit and invited local musicians to collaborate. Errol Sly, Ranking Ann, Sergeant Pepper, Deborah Glasgow, Victor Cross, Sister Audrey, his backing band the Sane Inmates and a host of other talented local artists, some of whom would go on to become stalwarts in their respective genres, all contributed to this album, capturing the raw essence of Mad Professor and Ariwa's early sound," the release notes further detail. 

Now remastered, these moonstruck debut ventures into his signature dub explorations are at large and ready to be rediscovered true to form. Putting on a wicked display of reverb-fueled, effects-laden creativity, these fun-loving productions are serious business. A captivating listening experience from start to finish, we went through all the feels nodding our heads, drifting into space then stepping hard to the 'mad' beats and revelling in the vocal prowess of the distinguished emcee cast. "Ariwa Sounds: The Early Sessions" is an essential release for novices and devotees alike.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom