Aswad ("Black" in Arabic) are a long-lasting British reggae group, noted for adding strong R&B and soul influences to the reggae sound. They have been performing since the mid-1970s, having released a total of twenty-one albums.
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 Forde, Angus "Drummie Zeb" Gaye, Donald Griffiths, George Oban, and Courtney Hemmings. 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.
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). 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; 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".
Among Aswad's catalogue of hits is "Don't Turn Around", a UK No. 1 hit in 1988, originally recorded by Tina Turner as a B-side to her "Typical Male" single. They followed this up with UK No. 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.
Brinsley Forde left Aswad in 1996 for spiritual reasons.
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.
- Additional musicians
- 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 No. 50
- 1983: Live and Direct - Island Records UK No. 57
- 1984: Rebel Souls - Island Records UK No. 48
- 1986: To the Top - Simba UK No. 71
- 1988: Jah Shaka Meets Aswad in Addis Ababa Studio - Jah Shaka
- 1988: Distant Thunder - Mango Records UK No. 10
- 1988: Renaissance - 20 Crucial Tracks - Stylus UK No. 52
- 1989: Aswad: Crucial Tracks
- 1990: Next to You - Alex
- 1990: Too Wicked - Mango Records UK No. 51
- 1993: Firesticks - Alex
- 1994: Rise and Shine - Bubblin' Records UK No. 38
- 1995: Rise and Shine Again! - Mesa
- 1995: Dub: The Next Frontier - Mesa
- 1995: Greatest Hits - Bubblin' Records UK No. 20
- 1997: Big Up - Atlantic Records
- 1997: The BBC Sessions
- 1997: Roots Rocking: Island Anthology (compilation; incl. "Don't Get Weary", prev. unreleased)
- 1999: Roots Revival - Ark 21
- 2001: 25 Live: 25th Anniversary
- 2002: Cool Summer Reggae - Universal Music TV UK No. 54
- 2009: City Lock - Bubblin' Records UK No. 63
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1984||"Chasing For The Breeze"||51||Rebel Souls|
|"54-46 (Was My Number)"||70|
|1988||"Don't Turn Around"||1||6||29||4||5||1||Distant Thunder|
|"Give A Little Love"||11||58||16||69||25|
|"Set Them Free"||70|
|1989||"Beauty's Only Skin Deep"||31||57||Crucial Tracks (Best Of Aswad)|
|"On And On"||25|
|1990||"Next To You"||24||46||18||31||Too Wicked|
|1991||Best Of My Love Too Wicked EP||61||49|
|1993||"How Long" (with Yazz)||31||52||One On One - (Yazz Album)|
|"Dancehall Mood"||48||Rise And Shine Again!|
|"We Are One People"||96|
|1995||"You're No Good"||35||88|
|"If I Was"||58||Big Up|
|1998||"Invisible Sun" (with Sting)||97||Roots Revival|
|2002||"Shy Guy"||62||Cool Summer Reggae|
- Ace of Base remix of "Don't Turn Around" (No. 10 hit in the UK)
- Vanessa Mae - "Classical Gas" (Top 30 hit in UK)
- Janet Kay - "Missing You"
- List of reggae musicians
- John Arnison
- Snowden, Don, Reggae--brit Style, The Los Angeles Times, 1985-07-14. URL accessed on 2010-12-30.
- 2.0 2.1 2.2 Moskowitz, David V. (2006) Caribbean Popular Music: an Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall, Greenwood Press, p. 16. ISBN 0-313-33158-8
- Larkin, Colin (1998), The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9
- Davina Morris, "Aswad reunites for Island's 50th anniversary", The Gleaner, 17 May 2009.
- Roots Rocking Discogs
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
- Aswad UK Singles. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-04.
- Aswad Belgian Singles. Ultratop.be. ULTRATOP & Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Retrieved on 2013-12-04.
- Aswad German Singles. Hung Medien. Retrieved on 2013-12-04.
- Aswad Irish Singles. IRMA 2006 - 2008. Retrieved on 2013-12-04.
- Aswad Ducth Singles. Hung Medien. Retrieved on 2013-12-04.
- Aswad New Zealand Singles. charts.org.nz. Retrieved on 2013-12-04.
- Biography and discography
- "Aswad: Reggae Gold", interview by Pete Lewis, Blues & Soul, July 2009.
- Gallery of Aswad party pictures by dz studios
- Myspace profile
- Aswad UK chart placings, Chart Stats