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Get Your Reggae on With ASWAD
Aswad is named after the Arabic word for "black," but this reggae band is actually British. The group has been active and recording for four decades. Combining the roots sounds of the West Indies with British soul, Aswad helped reggae music expand outside of the Jamaican culture during the 1970s.
Aswad tours London in the next few months with stops at London's Jazz Cafe, The Globe in Cardiff and The Motion and Marble Factory in Bristol. Recently, Aswad played the Reload Festival at the Norfolk Showground in Costessey, appearing with Sister Sledge, Duran Duran, Heaven 17, Billy Ocean and Human League, among others.
Aswad was the first black British band to be signed to a major record label. Signed to Island Records, they became the first Reggae artists outside of Jamaica to play for cultural icons Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, who originally made up The Wailers.
Aswad formed in 1974 in England's Ladbroke Grove neighbourhood. Incorporating musical influences they grew up with, such as calypso and blue beat, they stirred up their own brand of dub and dancehall that appeals to fans old and new. Today's line-up includes original members Angus "Drummie" Zeb Gaye on vocals and drums, as well as guitarist Tony "Gad" Robinson. As ambassadors of Britain's roots reggae sound, Aswad inspired generations of artists like Boy George, UB40, The Police and Paul Weller. They are featured in the BBC Four programme, Reggae Britannica among artists whose music falls on the timeline of reggae sounds since it first broke through in Jamaica in the 1960s.
Aswad found success with their debut album, Back to Africa, which reached No. 1 in the UK in 1976. In 1977, they served as Burning Spears' band on the Live record. Thanks to a growing interest in music videos, Aswad finally got the international buzz they deserved when their video for "Don't Turn Around" (a cover of Tina Turner's "slept-on" song on the B-side of "Typical Male") found a worldwide audience of viewers in 1988. This led to success on the radio and subsequently a hit single that led them to No. 1 on the UK Pop Chart.
Aswad's massive catalogue includes 21 albums. Among them are New Chapter (1981), Distant Thunder (1988) and City Lock (2009). These were three of their biggest albums at different points in their longstanding career. The singles, "Give a Little Love" and "Shine" are among their highest charted hits. Their influence on '80s reggae resurfaced in the '90s through Ace of Base's cover of "Don't Turn Around," which remixed the classic into a dance hit when it reached No. 10 on the UK Pop Chart. Another noteworthy release is 2002's Cool Summer Reggae, with renditions of classic reggae infused pop hits like Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" and The Police's "Roxanne," and dancehall classics like Dawn Penn's, "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" and Gregory Issacs' "Night Nurse."
With a style in the vein of long-running bands such as Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse and Third World, Aswad has fans of every age, and their shows feature hours of music to enjoy. Original members Gaye and Robinson tirelessly perform decades' worth of hits and cover tunes for their audience. Aswad tickets guarantee the opportunity to see a band that's proud of their 40-year legacy, but still brings down the house like it's the first show they've ever played. On some of their UK dates, they share billing with a fantastic line-up of artists that include Dawn Penn (of "You Don't Love Me" fame), The Paradimes and Kingjay. Having played for sold-out crowds at Montego Bay, Jamaica, Glastonbury, Hammerstein and London's Wembley Arena, fans won't want to miss this rare chance to see these British reggae legends live and onstage.
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