Co-founded at the start of the ‘80s by percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and UK producer Adrian Sherwood, African Head Charge constitutes a particularly successful chapter in the story of On-U Sound. The project’s early work, four albums combining post-punk-derived experimentation with dub and African ingredients, shapes up the latest installment in On-U Sound’s deserved retail retelling. They’re available now on vinyl and digital separately and as a bundle directly from the label.
Gradually returning a vital hunk of ’80s musical history to print, the ongoing string of On-U Sound reissues and compilations provides lovers of way-out dub, edgy post-punk, and specifically recent converts to the achievements of Adrian Sherwood with numerous reasons for celebration. Revealing striking consistency amongst steady growth, the emergence of African Head Charge’s ’81-’85 output deepens the scenario considerably as it illuminates an especially fertile collaboration.
Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah, or Bonjo for short, had studied in the Rasta drumming camp of Jamaican bandleader Count Ossie. After time spent on the UK scene he joined the Sherwood-produced group Creation Rebel and like many of his bandmates ended up in the credits of numerous On-U Sound releases including those by New Age Steppers, Dub Syndicate, Singers and Players, and Mark Stewart. However, African Head Charge stands as Bonjo’s deepest contribution to the label.
Indeed, what essentially started as a joint Sherwood-Bonjo effort (with assistance from Style Scott, Crocodile, Deadly Headley, Crucial Tony, Bruce Smith, Steve Beresford, Mus’come a.k.a. Charlie “Eskimo” Fox, Doctor Pablo, Public Image Limited’s Jah Wobble, Sugarhill Gang/Tackhead member Skip McDonald and others) slowly became an actual band led by the percussionist; the four records reviewed here represent African Head Charge’s collaborative, studio-based period.