Blackworld: Professional People -- Artistes -- ASWAD



Afer fifteen albums and two decades on the music scene, Aswad remains one of Britain's best-loved reggae bands. Led by the trio of Brinsley "Dan" Forde (on vocals and rhythm guitar), Angus "Drummie Zeb" Gaye (on vocals and drums), and Tony "Gad" Robinson (on bass) , Aswad is renowned among reggae fans for their rich melodies and compelling harmonies, woven over hard rhythm tracks and inspired horn riffs.
Aswad (a name derived from the Amharic word for "black") was formed in the Ladbroke area of West London in 1974. Along with contemporaries Matumbi, The Cimmarons, and Black Slate, the band was among the first home grown acts to prove that Caribbean music could successfully take root in Europe. In its early years, Aswad was the only British group to record and/or perform in concert with several top Jamaican artists, including Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. (Bunny, in fact, was known to refer to Aswad as the "Young Wailers").

The trio first gained national attention in 1976 when their debut release, "Back To Africa," hit the #1 slot on the U.K. Reggae Charts. "Love Fire," their popular anthem released in 1981, eventually became part of the reggae canon and is still versioned today by many Jamaican record producers (an honor no other British band has been awarded). The group's 1983 Island release, Live and Direct, is considered one ofthe quintessential live reggae albums.

By the mid-'80s, the Aswad rhythm section of Drummie and Tony had contributed to a number of top British reggae hits by such artists as Janet Kay, Smiley Culture, Trevor Walters and Trevor Hartley. Later in the decade, the band became known for their adventurous fusion of such different musical styles as dancehall, fink, hip-hop and dub. Their catch-word "fresh" soon became a favorite in Jamaican dancehalls.

Afer a series of successful singles and albums on Island and CBS, Aswad earned international acclaim with their reggae version of "Don't Turn Around," a song previously covered by both Luther Ingram and Tina Turner. "Don't Turn Around," released on Island in 1988, sailed to the #1 slot on the U.K. National Charts and was the most-played record on French radio. (A similar pop version ofthe song was recently an international hit for Swedish group Ace of Base.)

Over the years, Aswad's recordings have found them joining forces with a variety of artists, including Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest, Hugh Masakela, Steely & Cleevie, Shabba Ranks, and Sly & Robbie's Taxi Gang. The band has toured extensively, playing to packed houses in such diverse locales as London's Royal Albert Hall and Montego Bay's Reggae Sunsplash to West Africa, Israel and Japan.

In 1994, Aswad captured a host of new fans wi th the release of Rise & Shine (Mesa), a recording which garnered the band's first Grammy nomination for "Best Reggae Album of the Year.". Rise and Shine spent four weeks at the #1 spot on the CMJ New World chart and garnered a Top 10 slot of the Billboard reggae chart. The album was also a major hit in the U.K. and Japan, where it produced a #1 single, boosting worldwide sales to more than 600,000.

Now, Aswad continues to build on its impressive track record with Mesa's 1995 release of Rise & Shine Again which features all but one of the tracks from the Grammy-nominated album, plus five bonus tracks, and DUB: The Next Frontier, the band's first dub recording in more than a decade. As Vibe Maazine recently noted, "Aswad seems set to shine for years to come."

Name of Album Year of Release Record Label
Aswad 1976 Island
Hulet 1979 Grove Music
Showcase 1981 Island
New Chapter 1981 CBS
Not Satisfied 1982 CBS
New Chapter of Dub 1982 Island
Live and Direct 1983 Island
Rebel Souls 1984 Island
To the Top 1986 Simba
Distant Thunder 1988 Island
Renaissance - 20 Crucial Tracks 1988 Stylus
Too Wicked 1990 Island
Rise & Shine 1994 Mesa
Rise & Shine Again 1995 Mesa
DUB: The Next Frontier 1995 Mesa

Aswad may be reached through their Press Contact at:

Debra Harner
Mesa/BIuemoon Recordings
209 E. Alameda Avenue, Burbank, CA 91502

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