African Head Charge started life as a studio recording project in 1981 when the percussion talents of Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah combined with the studio wizardry of Adrian Sherwood.
Bonjo had come to England from a Rasta camp in the hills of Clarendon, Jamaica. From as early as he can remember he studied and played percussion, learning not only Rasta/Nyabinghi drums but also African and Afro Cuban rhythms. He also loved to experiment, which made working with Sherwood perfect. Working with tape loops, manipulated and vari-speeded 1/4 inch tape that was re-recorded back to the multi-track tape, reverbs and delays, this was then applied to the performances of the musicians. And so the first psychedelic African dub LP ‘My Life In A Hole In The Ground’ was created.
1- African Head Charge – Flim
2- African Head Charge – Timpanya
3- African Head Charge – Peace and Happiness
4- African Head Charge – Cattle Herders Chant
5- African Head Charge – Stebeni’s Theme
6- African Head Charge – Snakeskin Tracksuit
7- African Head Charge – Arrival & Fall Out
8- African Head Charge – Healing Ceremony
9- African Head Charge – Learning
10- African Head Charge – the Race Pt. 2
11- Dub Syndicate Feat. African Head Charge – Don’t Care About Space Invader Machines Pt. 1
12- African Head Charge – You Learn
13- African Head Charge – Positive Thoughts & Mind
14- African Head Charge – Gospel Train
15- African Head Charge – Fullness
16- African Head Charge – Some Bizarre
17- African Head Charge – Dub for the Spirits
18- African Head Charge – Dub Some More
19- African Head Charge – Hold Some Version
20- African Head Charge Feat. Mutabaruka – What Is the Plan
21- African Head Charge – Unplanned
22- African Head Charge – Heading to Glory
23- African Head Charge – Run Come Chant
Please note: for all you On-U Sound / African Head Charge fans, there is an epic reissue campaign featuring 5 LPS / 5 CD Boxset released 6th March via On-U Sound. Info + Pre Order Here
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It was not until the late 1980s that African Head Charge made its first appearance as a live band, taking place at the University of London (ULU) and instantly a sold out success. What followed in the next few years gave them semi-legendary status, with performances at festivals such as Glastonbury and Womad, and visits to Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Three more largely experimental studio albums followed throughout the 80’s: ‘Environmental Studies’ (1982), ‘Drastic Season’ (1983) and ‘Off The Beaten Track’ (1986). The latter has been hailed as both a seminal recording in the progressive use of sound-bite technology and an excellent example of the integration of live instrumentation and programmed music.
1990 saw the release of the ‘Songs Of Praise’ LP widely acknowledged as their masterpiece. It featured religious chants from different parts of the world set to an African dub backdrop of multi-layered percussion and demonstrated another evolution in their sound. It was followed by the complimentary ‘In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land’ album in 1993.
In 1995 Bonjo left London to start a new life in Ghana and it was not until 2003 that he made a return visit to London and renewed his partnership with Adrian Sherwood on ‘Vision Of A Psychedelic Africa’, released in 2005. Voodoo of the Godsent is their most recent studio album, described by the label as being “the culmination of thirty years of endeavour”.
In 2016 On-U Sound put out vinyl reissues of the first four African Head Charge albums, which had become increasingly sought after by DJs and collectors. These were followed up with an LP of unreleased tracks and excursions from that same early-80s period, ‘Return Of The Crocodile’, carefully transferred from the original decaying tapes and sequenced for release by On-U archivist Patrick Dokter.
African Head Charge have returned to the live stage in recent years with a line-up featuring original African Head Charge members and augmented by the electronics of Gaudi (recently heard on Lee “Scratch” Perry’s ‘Rainford’ and ‘Heavy Rain’). The current show fuses together djembes, guitars, drums, keys and vocals with heavy electronic sampling and visuals. The collective use this blend of live and electronica to generate an intoxicating soundscape of reggae-inflected drumming, visceral vocals and bottomless, thrumming bass-lines that truly reach to the heart of your being.