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.
‘Voodoo Of The Godsent’ is the first new recording in five years from African Head Charge, and marks the beginning of an extensive series of new releases and classic reissues celebrating the 30th Anniversary of On-U Sound.
Formed in the early 80s by On-U head man Adrian Sherwood and percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah, African Head Charge have established a unique reputation over the years for producing exceptionally beautiful and deeply strange music.
This is their first release since 2005’s ‘Visions Of A Psychedelic Africa’ and finds Bonjo once again joining forces with long time On-U stable-mates Skip McDonald, Crocodile, and The Crispy Horns, together with contributions from legendary bassist George Oban, Dancehall pioneer Jazzwad and electronic wizard Adamski.
All the elements of a classic African Head Charge album are present; a triumphant mix of dub, psychedelia, trance, afro and tribal rhythms that have given them their own unique place in contemporary music.
‘Voodoo Of The Godsent’ will be followed in April by the re-release of three seminal On-U Sound albums : Creation Rebel’s ‘Starship Africa’, African Head Charge’s ‘Off The Beaten Track’, and The New Age Steppers’ eponymous debut album, which was the first ever LP release on the On-U Sound label.