- Released: July 15, 2002
- Label: Universal I.S.
- 1.Rebel Soul
- 2.Can't Stand the Pressure
- 3.Ethiopian Rhapsody
- 4.Natural Progression
- 5.Back to Africa
- 6.Red Up
- 7.Ire Woman
- 8.Concrete Slaveship
Aswad: Brinsley Forde [Chakab], Donald Griffiths [Dee] (guitar, percussion, vocals), Courtney Hemmings [Khaki] (keyboards, percussion, vocals), George Oban [Ras] (bass, percussion), Angus Gaye [Drummie] (drums, percussion, piano, vocals).
Additional personnel: Adetokumba Illorin (acoustic guitar), Bunny McKenzie (harmonica), Trevor Bow (percussion), Candy McKenzie, Delroy Washington (background vocals).
Recorded at The Island Studio, Hammersmith, England.
All songs written by members of Aswad.
Personnel: Donald Griffiths, Brinsley Forde (vocals, guitar, percussion); Courtney Hemmings (vocals, keyboards, percussion); Delroy Washington, Candy McKenzie (vocals); Adetokumba Illorin (guitar); Bunny McKenzie (harmonica); Angus Gaye (keyboards, drums); George Oban, Trevor Bow (percussion).
Recording information: Island Studio, Hammersmith, London, England.
Aswad has proven to be one of Britain's most influential and enduring reggae acts. Though later releases would find the group exploring more commercially oriented, R&B-flavored reggae (and garnering crossover chart success as a result), their self-titled debut for Mango is a satisfying set of straightforward roots music. For the most part, the album traffics in floating, downtempo grooves, as on the instrumental "Red Up" and the surging "Natural Progression." In addition to their bright, guitar/keys interplay and air-tight rhythms, four of Aswad's five members sing, and the album is filled with strong solo and group vocal performances--the gospel-touched "Can't Stand the Pressure," for example, and "Back to Africa," Aswad's first single.
The band also takes a cue from classic dub, as on the echoing soundscapes of "Ethiopian Rhapsody," in which harmonica and flamenco guitar wind through a heady rhythm vamp. While Aswad's lyrics address conventional Rastafarian themes, and their commitment to roots reggae is unwavering, there are hints here of the jazzy instrumental flair and the influence of American soul (especially in the singing and phrasing) that would come to dominate their later work. In all, ASWAD is a strong first statement from this high- profile outfit.
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