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African Head Charge
Related: Adrian Sherwood - reggae - UK music
ProfileAt its essence, reggae music captures a symbiotic balance between entertainment and enlightenment. Whether spreading uplifting spiritual themes or tackling serious issues of social justice, each song's heartbeat groove should dovetail with its lyrical thrust.
Enter African Head Charge, who know full well the cumulative power of reggae's rhythm/message tandem. Led by founder and percussionist Bonjo, AHC has revelled in the inherent duality of dub music for over 15 years -- and their latest album, Akwaaba, shows their revelry continuing today.
"Cheer Up," "Live Good," and the sublimely funky "World Peace" each stake out an unabashedly optimistic position. "Glory Dawn" and "Don't Waste Time" take particularly upbeat rhythmic approaches in delivering their positive messages. And with its backdrop of acoustic guitar and organ, "All Of The Love" possesses the stark passion of a gospel hymn.
Bonjo and African Head Charge made their recording debut in 1981 on Adrian Sherwood's On-U-Sound label, kicking off a steady stream of riddim music which has continued unabated ever since. Over the course of the 1980s, the group progressively delved deeper and deeper in the dub realm, culminating with the acclaimed albums Songs Of Praise and In Pursuit Of A Shashamane (the latter of which prompted Melody Maker to rave "it is an album stuffed with delights possessed of an ambition most bands couldn't begin to understand").
Now ensconced in the warm environs of Acid Jazz Records, African Head Charge releases their label debut Akwaaba. Alongside Gregory Isaacs and other rootsy colleagues, AHC's presence on the Acid Jazz roster shows the label expanding its scope into new cultural and geographical territory.
I read your remarks on African Headcharge. I've benn an AHC-fan myself for a long time and saw them live for three times. It was pure liveforce and soundpower! But I cannot share your opinion on Akwaaba. Ok, it's a warm and nice album, but boring and lame compared to the On-U-Sound albums. Nothing of the innovative sound is left and the Acid Jazz studio musicians suck. I've seen AHC life after the release of Akwaaba and they sounded like popmusic compared to the raw and complex music they used to play. It shows: AHC was more than just Bonjo Noah. The rest of the group formed a new band wich released a CD in 1997 under the name of Institute of Dubology. It is not great either, but there are some good stepper-tracks on it, which kick! They use a lot of old Dub Syndicate and AHC basslines and samples. Try the songs 'Braindamage' and 'Saso'.
The future of dub lies in Japan I think. The next chapter of On-U is Audioactive. Cheerio & smoke on! Would be nice to get a mail Bye, Sky 11.
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