The UK post-punk impulse was a sizeable one, its prolificacy ranging from cornerstone acts to DIY obscurities. Landing somewhere in the middle is The Mothmen, their 1981 LP Pay Attention! holding the distinction of being the second entry in the discography of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label. Upon release it failed to find an audience and for years has basically been a footnote to a handful of larger success stories. In a classy move On-U Sound is giving the record a welcome vinyl reissue with bonus tracks on the download; it’s available May 29th.
In the realms of reissuedom can be found a steady stream of uninspiring and occasionally downright dubious choices, but when underappreciated, totally scarce and frequently pricey items are granted new life the endeavor is largely vindicated. Of course, proper credit should be given to the individuals with the good taste and foresight to have documented said recordings in the first place; in the case of Pay Attention! that someone is Adrian Sherwood.
A key architect in late-20th century music, Sherwood’s early productivity is nicely detailed on Sherwood at the Controls, Volume 1: 1979-1984 as recently compiled by On-U Sound, the long-extant label initially conceived by the artist to catalog his work as a producer. Amongst the names corralled by the 2LP are Maximum Joy, The Fall, The Slits, Shriekback, Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Annie Anxiety, Prince Far I, and African Head Charge.
A major aspect in Sherwood’s method was collaboration, often with musicians of Jamaican descent, and a main ingredient in his sonic recipe was the boundary pushing echo-sponginess of prime dub. The inaugural On-U Sound release (On-U LP 01) is the self-titled 1981 debut from The New Age Steppers; produced by Sherwood and featuring contributions from Bruce Smith and Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, Viv Albertine and Ari-Up of The Slits, Vicky Aspinall of The Raincoats, Vivien Goldman, and Steve Beresford, it fits exceedingly well into On-U Sound’s MO.