Aswad — home grown Roots
LUSH AND sure, Aswad emerge intact from their recording wilderness — intact and glowing. Living in Britain, Aswad have taken day by day account of their situation and reflected upon it. Reflected upon it culturally and musically while ignoring the cheap jibes that insinuate that somehow Aswad are not roots because they’re not working in Kingston. Aswad have ignored any temptation they might have faced to be mere JA imitators while remaining in close touch with the best the township has to offer.
The result of these reflections is New Chapter, a text as rich, warm and substantial as Christmas pudding. Conditions in England right now might be spare and sparse but Aswad have stared them in the face and come out fighting warm and melodic. The results aren’t busy so much as full — full harmonies, full instrumentation with a generous use of brass, synths and backing vocalese, and, steady in the centre, Brinsley Force’s soothing and symphathetic lead. Melodies abound on New Chapter and so do ideas while Aswad march forward, sometimes in muted measure and aweful worship as on ‘I Will Keep On Loving You’, sometimes in restrained but righteous anger as on the opener, ‘African Children’.
While on the subject of British reggae, a brief mention for Creation Rebel’s latest offering, an intriguing mixture of dub and harmonising vocals all thrown together with an eccentric ear for sound effects and echo and rooted around ‘Lizard’ Logan’s firm bass. Creation Rebel have a curious and intelligent imagination at work. Look out for them. After all, both these bands can be seen a deal more regularly than your visiting JA stars and these are bands that play together. It shows. + + + + for both.
© Mark Cooper, Record Mirror, 28 November 1981