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."
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
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.
Festive Fifty Entries
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.)
- 15 October 1983 (BFBS): Depth Charge (album - Drastic Season) On-U Sound ON-U LP 27
- 15 October 1983 (BFBS): Snake In The Hole (album - Drastic Season) On-U Sound ON-U LP 27
- 12 November 1983 (BFBS): Timbuktu Express (album - Drastic Season) On-U Sound ON-U LP 27
- 24 November 1983: African Hedge Hog (album - Drastic Season) On-U Sound
- 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
- Peel Summer 1989: Elastic Dance (album - Great Vintage Volume 1) On-U Sound
- 29 September 1990: Hymn (LP - Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 06 October 1990: Orderliness, Godliness, Discipline And Dignity (LP-Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 07 October 1990: The Dervish Chant (LP-Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 13 October 1990 (BFBS) (Peel 161 (BFBS)): 'Hymn (LP-Songs Of Praise)' (On-U Sound)
- 21 October 1990: Cattle Herder's Chant (LP-Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 28 October 1990: Orderliness, Godliness, Discipline And Dignity (album - Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 04 November 1990: Gospel Train (album - Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 11 November 1990: Special Mix (v/a 7" - Sniffin Rock #12) Sniffin Rock SR009
- 18 November 1990: My God (LP-Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 22 December 1990: Orderliness, Godliness, Discipline And Dignity (CD-Songs Of Praise) On-U Sound
- 16 November 1991: Churchical Charms (live)
- 19 November 1993: Pursuit (album - In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land) On-U Sound ON-U LP 65
- 27 November 1993 (BFBS): Pursuit (Album - In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land) On-U Sound
- 03 December 1993: No, Don't Follow Fashion (LP - In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land)’ (On-U Sound)
- 10 December 1993: One Destination (LP-In Pursuit of Shashamane Land) On-U Sound
- 14 January 1994: Fever Pitch (LP - In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land) On-U Sound
- 23 February 2000: Depth Charge (LP - Drastic Season) On-U Sound
- 26 February 2000 (BFBS): Depth Charge (LP-Drastic Season) 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