Aswad ("Black" in Arabic) are a long-lasting British reggae group, noted for adding strong R&B and soul influences to the reggae sound.[1] They have been performing since the mid-1970s, having released a total of twenty-one albums.

History[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The members of Aswad are UK descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean. They attended John Kelly/Holland Park School.

The original members of Aswad were Brinsley FordeAngus "Drummie Zeb" Gaye, Donald Griffiths, George Oban, and Courtney Hemmings.[2] Aswad were the backing band of Burning Spear's 1977 Live album, recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London. Other contributors included Vin Gordon, and Karl Pitterson.[3]

They became one of the UK's top reggae bands in the 1980s, following the departures of Hemmings (in 1976), Oban and Griffiths (both in 1980), and the arrival of Tony "Gad" Robinson (as a replacement for Oban).[2] They were distinctly different from Jamaican reggae acts, in that they wrote songs that dealt with the issues surrounding the experiences of black youths growing-up in the UK;[2] such as "Three Babylon" and "It's Not Our Wish", and the powerful jazz-influenced instrumental "Warrior Charge".

Aswad gained a wider audience with the New Chapter album (1981). "Love Fire" gained wide recognition when it was used as the backing rhythm for Dennis Brown's "Promised Land".

[1][2]Aswad, playing live at Magic Summer Live July 2013.

Among Aswad's catalogue of hits is "Don't Turn Around", a UK no.1 pop hit in 1988, originally recorded by Tina Turner as a B-side to her "Typical Male" single. They followed this up with UK #11 hit "Give A Little Love", and a reggae flavoured rendition of "Best of My Love", first popularized and written by The Eagles. In 1989, they contributed the single, "Set Them Free" to the Greenpeace Rainbow Warriors album. In the same year they performed together with Sir Cliff Richard the song "Share A Dream" recorded the previous year, at Wembley Stadium as part of The Event (16 and 17 June 1989). Their next hit, "Shine", was released in 1994. Another track was the upbeat 1998 remake of The Police's "Invisible Sun", performed with Sting.

The band also hold the distinction of having played with each one of the ex-Wailers.

The band has toured extensively, playing in diverse locations from London's Royal Albert Hall and Montego Bay's Reggae Sunsplash, to gigs in West Africa, Israel and Japan.[4]

Brinsley Forde left Aswad in 1996 for spiritual reasons.[5]

Aswad released their most recent material in 2009, with the album City Lock. They released singles "What Is Love?" and "Do That Thing" in the same year.[6]

Members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Current members
  • Angus "Drummie Zeb" Gaye - vocals, drums (1975–present)
  • Tony "Gad" Robinson - vocals, bass, keyboards (1980–present)
Former members
  • Brinsley "Dan" Forde - vocals, rhythm guitars (1975-1996)
  • Donald Griffiths - lead guitars (1975-1980)
  • George Oban - bass (1975-1980)
  • Courtney Hemmings - keyboards (1975-1976)
Additional musicians
  • Stanley Andrew - lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, vocals
  • Clifton "Bigga" Morrison - vocals, keyboards, melodica
  • Martin "Tatta" Augustine - lead guitars
  • John Kaipye - guitars
  • Jimmy "Senyah" Haynes - lead guitars, acoustic guitars
  • Michael "Bammie" Rose - keyboards
  • Vin "Trommie" Gordon - trumpet
  • Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton - trumpet
  • Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie - keyboards
  • Jimmy "J-Slice" Neath - trumpet
  • Paul Garred - guitars
  • Michael Martin - saxophone
  • Brian Edwards - saxophone
  • Trevor Jones - trombone
  • Perry "Lion" Melius - drums
  • Kenrick Rowe - drums

Production work[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • 1976: Aswad - Mango Records
  • 1978: Hulet - Mango Records
  • 1981: New Chapter - Columbia Records
  • 1981: Showcase - Mango Records
  • 1982: A New Chapter of Dub - Mango Records
  • 1982: Not Satisfied - Columbia Records UK #50
  • 1983: Live and Direct - Island Records UK #57
  • 1984: Rebel Souls - Island Records UK #48
  • 1986: To the Top - Simba UK #71
  • 1988: Jah Shaka Meets Aswad in Addis Ababa Studio - Jah Shaka
  • 1988: Distant Thunder - Mango Records UK #10
  • 1988: Renaissance - 20 Crucial Tracks - Stylus UK #52
  • 1989: Aswad: Crucial Tracks
  • 1990: Next to You - Alex
  • 1990: Too Wicked - Mango Records UK #51
  • 1993: Firesticks - Alex
  • 1994: Rise and Shine - Bubblin' Records UK #38
  • 1995: Rise and Shine Again! - Mesa
  • 1995: Dub: The Next Frontier - Mesa
  • 1995: Greatest Hits - Bubblin' Records UK #20
  • 1997: Big Up - Atlantic Records
  • 1997: The BBC Sessions
  • 1997: Roots Rocking: Island Anthology (compilation; incl. "Don't Get Weary", prev. unreleased)[7]
  • 1999: Roots Revival - Ark 21
  • 2001: 25 Live: 25th Anniversary
  • 2002: Cool Summer Reggae - Universal Music TV UK #54
  • 2009: City Lock - Bubblin' Records UK #63[8]

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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