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On-U Sound In The Area

Act Noah House Of Dread

Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah
Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah (Photo: On.U Sound)

Steve Barker introduces an off-shoot project of African Head Charge's main man:

Noah House Of Dread was a vehicle for the alternate incarnation of ex-Creation Rebel master percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah a.k.a. Bonjo I, whose talents also provided the centrepiece of the about to be created African Head Charge. So the primary purpose of Noah House of Dread was as an outlet for Bonjo to "let off" and satisfy his yearnings as a vocalist and band leader. This contrasted with AHC's then virtual studio collective with an experimental angle - mainly percussion-based with early experiments in "captured" or sampled sound as explored by producer Adrian Sherwood.

The line-up of Noah House of Dread was: Drums - Eskimo, Bass - Ever, Guitar - Danjuma / "Crucial" Tony, Piano - Bubblers, Horns - Nicky Norris / Jah Globe / Deadly Headley / Flash / Rudy, Vocals - Bonjo I a.k.a. Noah, Percussion - Bonjo I a.k.a. Noah, Harmony - The Heart Choir.

The album release of "Heart" in October of 1982 (ON-U LP20) was prefaced by the appearance of a 10" discoplate in June of the same year (ON-U DP6), featuring versions of both "Murder" (with dub outing) and "Stand Firm" - the latter of which was to be sampled for the remix of Prince Far I's "Water The Garden" for 1988's Volume 2 of "Pay It All Back" (ON-U LP42). Both tunes were featured on the album and are excellent examples of Bonjo's roots chanting style which he developed and refined to such excellent effect within the touring form of African Head Charge.

Murder discoplate
"Murder" discoplate

When Bonjo's parents sent for him to come to England he ran away into the hills. His brothers were sent to fetch the errant youth and he finally arrived in London in the late sixties. His first real encounter with the music business was as a roadie for Dandy Livingstone and his band, who were experiencing some chart success on the back of the skinhead connection with tunes like "Reggae In Your Jeggae". No one knew of Bonjo's percussion skills which only came to light one night when the band's conga player failed to turn up for a gig and Bonjo stepped in.

Some jealous encounters ensued but the positive result was that Bonjo decided to invest in a drum! Later on Bonjo was invited, and accepted, an invitation from Clem Curtis to join the Foundations who were still enjoying touring success on the back of their 1968 monster hit "Build Me A Buttercup". Bonjo really enjoyed the trappings of this exposure to an adoring public:

"In those days I was wild!"

Bonjo's reintroduction to playing the music of his heritage came via Charlie "Eskimo Fox" who played in both UK reggae fusion outfit Freedom Fighter and the UK/JA band Creation Rebel. Adrian Sherwood remembers being introduced to Bonjo by Desmond "Fatfingers" of Creation Rebel, the band who were to provide the physical vehicle for Bonjo's entry into the eventual and very crazy world of On-U Sound.

Editors additions:

After Bonjo returned to Ghana in the mid 1990s and started producing his own material, including releases on his own "Bonjo (I)" label, he continued to record as Noah House Of Dread and African Head Charge. While the former name is now seemingly defunct the first new Sherwood-produced African Head Charge tracks for 10 years welcomely appeared in 2003.

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Adrian Sherwood
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Mark Stewart / Maffia
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Noah House Of Dread
    . Biography
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