African Head Charge are a psychedelic dub ensemble active since the early 1980s. Combining the talents of former Creation Rebel percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and producer Adrian Sherwood, the band initially came into being as a studio-based operation with a shifting cast of members drawn from the pool of musicians working on projects for Sherwood’s On-U Sound label.

In a 2011 interview with The Quietus website, Sherwood recalled the original inspiration behind AHC:


"I read an interview in a newspaper where Brian Eno talked about [how] he’d made an album called “My Life In the Bush Of Ghosts” with another musician - that Talking Heads fellow [David Byrne] - and he said “I had a vision of a psychedelic Africa”. And I thought, “Oh, that’s pretentious.” But then I thought about it, and thought 'No, what a good idea! Make really trippy African dub'. … So I entered that area and I used Bonjo, who’d been in Creation Rebel and is a great percussionist. I built the thing around his percussion playing and the idea of making some really spaced out African dub."[1]

Debut LP “My Life In A Hole In The Ground” appeared on On-U Sound in 1981, followed by a string of African Head Charge albums on the label over the next decade, all produced by Sherwood. The band also developed into a live outfit, fronted by Bonjo I. After the percussionist relocated to Ghana in the mid-1990s, however, he started to work with other labels and his core AHC partnership with Sherwood was not renewed until the 2005 album “Vision Of A Psychedelic Africa”.

Links to Peel

African Head Charge - Songs of Praise - Orderliness, Godliness, Discipline and Dignity

African Head Charge - Songs of Praise - Orderliness, Godliness, Discipline and Dignity

Although African Head Charge did not have any Festive Fifty entries or record any sessions for his show, Peel played their new releases regularly until the mid-1990s, often commenting favourably on the involvement of producer Adrian Sherwood. The “Songs Of Praise” album (1990) contained one track the DJ returned to on a number of occasions, ‘Orderliness, Godliness, Discipline And Dignity’ – all qualities, he claimed, that were highly prized on the Peel wingding.

After AHC leader Bonjo I shifted his base to Ghana and worked less frequently with On-U Sound, though, Peel appeared to lose interest in the ensemble and limited himself to playing occasional older tracks. The former Creation Rebel percussionist did not work with Sherwood again on a new African Head Charge album until after Peel’s death.

The DJ also played releases by another On-U Sound act fronted by Bonjo I, the more conventional reggae outfit Noah House of Dread. As part of the label’s revolving roster of musicians, meanwhile, the percussionist also contributed to many recordings for other On-U Sound artists featured by Peel, including Barmy Army, Singers & Players, New Age Steppers and Dub Syndicate.[2]

Festive Fifty Entries

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Other Shows Played

(The following list was compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive. Please add further information if known.)

  • 04 June 1986: Some Bizarre (LP - Off The Beaten Track) On-U Sound
  • 22 November 1988: What A Wonderful Day (v/a LP - Pay It All Back Volume 2) On-U Sound
  • 14 January 1994: Fever Pitch (LP - In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land) On-U Sound

Noah House Of Dread

  • 01 June 1982: Murder (10") On-U Sound (JP: "When I was playing that in the office earlier on, one of the Radio 1 secretaries actually stuck her head in through the door and said, "hey, that's pretty good." and that's not something that happens a great deal, I must admit.")
  • 02 December 1982: Revelation Time (LP - Heart) On-U Sound
  • 17 May 1988: Neighbours (7") Go! Discs

External Links

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