For nearly forty years, master Nyabinghi percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah has collaborated with dub magician Adrian Sherwood/On-U Sound and friends in a psychedelic reggae ensemble called African Head Charge. Sherwood has said the idea for the group and the first album, "My Life in a Hole in the Ground" (1981) was sparked by Brian Eno's "“vision of a psychedelic Africa," a phrase he used to describe his wonderful album with David Byrne, "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts." Throughout the 1980s, I'd often return to "My Life in a Hole in the Ground" as the soundtrack for my own personal journeys into inner space.
On March 6, African Head Charge is following up a series of vinyl reissues with Drumming Is A Language: 1990-2011 a CD box set or vinyl bundle containing five essential albums along with "Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi," a collection of unreleased version mixes from the early 1990s. For a taste, immerse yourself in the gorgeous expanse of "Peace and Happiness" above. The way out is the way in.
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Reggae legend and activist Bob Marley was born on this day in 1945. He would have turned 75 this year. Read the rest
LISTEN: 'Heavyweight Reggae.' Yep, the name is right, and the channel delivers. Read the rest
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has just added reggae music to its list of more than 300 practices and expressions of "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" for safeguarding. From UNESCO:
Having originated within a cultural space that was home to marginalized groups, mainly in Western Kingston, the Reggae music of Jamaica is an amalgam of numerous musical influences, including earlier Jamaican forms as well as Caribbean, North American and Latin strains. In time, Neo-African styles, soul and rhythm and blues from North America were incorporated into the element, gradually transforming Ska into Rock Steady and then into Reggae. While in its embryonic state Reggae music was the voice of the marginalized, the music is now played and embraced by a wide cross-section of society, including various genders, ethnic and religious groups. Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual. The basic social functions of the music – as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God – have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all. Students are taught how to play the music in schools from early childhood to the tertiary level, and Reggae festivals and concerts such as Reggae Sumfest and Reggae Salute provide annual outlets, as well as an opportunity for understudy and transmission for upcoming artists, musicians and other practitioners.
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Bob Marley and the Wailers, 1973. The full live set is below, recorded in-studio for the BBC. Read the rest
Public Radio International aired this short audio piece on ska, the musical form that took off in the early 1960s, blending Jamaican jazz with American soul and rhythm and blues, and influenced numerous excellent bands, from The Clash and The Specials to No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Read the rest
Interview with Lee "Scratch" Perry from the 1985 documentary "Jools in Jamaica."