This is the story of the sometimes occasional but nevertheless long standing collaborations of Carlton Ogilvie, most commonly known as "Bubblers", with Adrian Sherwood. The pairing can be traced back to the end of the 1970s and the very beginnings of On-U Sound when the massed members of the fluxional On-U crew would convene to hang out together, smoke, make music and from time-to-time consign their efforts to record for posterity, but more immediately at the time perhaps, to help pay the rent.
Bubblers' entry into the On-U Sound sphere almost certainly came about through Anthony "Crucial Tony" Phillips, who in the 1970s and early 1980s was a member of Creation Rebel, the records of whom Sherwood regularly had a hand in releasing if not also producing and mixing, firstly via his Hitrun label and then later by On-U Sound itself.
From the early days and onwards Bubblers' On-U output has largely been identified only from his small print record sleeve credits. Usually this has been in the guise of keyboard supremo for the likes of reggae supergroup the Singers And Players, Dub Syndicate, Bim Sherman, more recently for Gary Clail, Little Roy, the Barmy Army and Little Axe, and up to date on Ghetto Priest and Adrian Sherwood's own solo material.
Undivided Roots' 'England Cold' single Undivided Roots' "England Cold" single As a musician and producer in his own right, at the start of the 1980s he also formed, along with Crucial Tony and Kenton "Fish" Brown, the nucleus of Undivided Roots, not only a recording, free standing reggae band but also a rhythm section for visiting Jamaican performers of the day to the UK, including Dennis Brown, Big Youth, Freddie McGregor and Culture. Other notable members have included, at different times, Don Campbell, Jazzwad (later also to work with Sherwood) and Trevor Fagan.
In fact an early single by the group, "England Cold" (AAP DP1), was produced by Sherwood and Crucial Tony and formed ultimately the only release on their Well Crucial label, made possible by the support of On-U. Despite their longevity and output Undivided Roots never quite managed to gain the critical acclaim they deserved; Bubblers also continuing to work as a studio-man-for-hire, for example with Maxi Priest in the late 1980s.
The 'Hustling Ability' album The "Hustling Ability" album Bubblers' most prominant work for On-U Sound to date came in the mid 1990s, announced by a track called "Sergio Mendes (Part 1)" which appeared on Virgin's Macro Dub Infection Volume 1' compilation in 1995, with press adverts of time crediting the track simply to 'Mr Bubblers'. An album's worth of music under the name 2 Badcard (sometimes Two Badcard) and titled "Hustling Ability" (ON-U LP78) followed soon after, with Bubblers finally taking a rightful central position in the creative hot seat, flanked ably by Sherwood. The album was well received and is still considered a high spot of its era by many an On-U Sound devotee today.
The mellowed-out track "Weed Specialist", reminding the masses that there is more to appreciating the herb than just being a 'chemical head', went on to be mashed-up and re-issued by Audio Active to a radically different, but equally compelling effect ('ON-U DP41'). A series of live shows were also planned to follow the album's release but in the end they never materialised, 2 Badcard seemingly hibernating as a performing unit as quickly as it had been conceived.
Several years of sporadic appearances by Bubblers followed as On-U went though a lull in both general activity and output. Then, in 2002, the label's re-launch saw a new 2 Badcard track, "Noise Polluters" [Rhythm 140], appear on its 'Chainstore Massacre' compilation (ON-U CD1002(1)), and in 2003 "Tabu Riddim" [Rhythm 139] featured on the 'Dub Solidarity' compilation (both tracks being re-workings of Ghetto Priest riddims from around same time). The arrival of a new album, 'Salvation Sounds', was announced and a catalogue number allocated (ON-U CD1004), but like so often at On-U Sound, it then all went quiet, and nothing of the eagerly-awaited follow-up has been heard ever since.
Meanwhile with 2 Badcard on indefinite hold, Bubblers and Crucial Tony are now part of North London's Ruff Cutt Band, an in-demand aggregation of session musicians and producers of today's and tomorrow's UK reggae stars.
2010 marks the 30th anniversary of Adrian Sherwood's mighty On-U Sound imprint, and the next 12 months will see the label's busiest schedule of new releases in more than half a decade. Leading from the front comes 'Vision Of A Psychedelic Africa', the first new studio album in 15 years from the seminal spiritual roots collective African Head Charge.
With interest in AHC given renewed life by the recent re-issue of their classic 1991 album 'Songs Of Praise', new fans and the group's legion of dedicated followers alike will be eager to submerge themselves in this latest deep collection, produced entirely with Adrian Sherwood at the controls. Without doubt, their patience will be rewarded, the passage of time having caused no dimming of the light in Bonjo's truly mesmerising and booming vision.
AHC leader and chief protagonist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah was born and raised in a Rasta community in the Jamaican hills, and after many years of international travel, in the mid-90s he followed the Rasta dream and relocated to Africa, making his home in Ghana. Returning to London to rehearse for some live shows with Asian Dub Foundation, he teamed up again with longtime collaborator Adrian Sherwood, and 'Vision Of A Psychedelic Africa' is the remarkable result.
Originally inspired by a comment made by Brian Eno in a 1981 interview discussing 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts', this album is African Head Charge at their very best, rich in varied percussion and spritual chants, set over hypnotic and transcendent layers of African rhythms, trippy and bubbling dubbed-out effects, and trademark pounding bass. Contributing musicians from the extended On-U family include Skip McDonald (guitar), Crucial Tony (guitar), Keith leBlanc (drums), Charles 'Eskimo' Fox (drums), and Doug Wimbish (bass).