Aswad marked the history of British reggae scene from day one. Named after the Arabic word for ‘black’, the band was formed by a bunch of Holland Park School kids of Jamaican origins in Ladbroke Grove, West London, in 1974. The 40-years history of the band follows the raise of downbeat music in Europe: Aswad has been the first British reggae band to sign to a major label (Island Records: what else?); their first tunes are featured in the score of Babylon, 1980 Black British cult movie directed by Franco Rosso. They have also been the first ones to stick a Reggae hit (Don’t Turn Around) to the no. 1 in the UK chart in 1988.
Their last album City Lock (2009, Bubblin’ Records) once again confirms their talent in blending old school Jamaican sound with British contaminations. City Lock encompasses all the range from groovy roots reggae to soul and funky vibes, including the usual incursions into dancehall and dub. It sounds fresh, without losing anything of the dancey, 80s-like distinctive charisma of the band and the characteristic romantic, uplifting mood of lyrics and arrangements. Don’t miss them playing in their turf at The Jazz Café in Camden on Saturday. Just classic: a must-go!
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