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Roots Rocking: Island Anthology
Roots Rocking: Island Anthology
Genres: World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Aswad
Title: Roots Rocking: Island Anthology
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Island
Original Release Date: 3/11/1997
Release Date: 3/11/1997
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: World Music, Pop
Style: Reggae
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 731452432025

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CD Reviews

home-body | northern california,usa | 12/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This massive 2-disc package
includes some of ASWAD's most crucial output for Island Records
between the years 1976 and 1990. Similar to Steel Pulse, ASWAD is a
British reggae band that was originally self-contained but as of this
writing, is whittled down to 2 remaining members, "DRUMMIE"
ZEB- (drums), and TONY GAD- (vocals, keyboards and bass). It is
tracks from the earlier part of their career that show the band in
their best light. Songs like "BACK TO AFRICA" not only
display cultural lyrics and beautiful reggae harmonies but a slight
jazz approach to the music. The jazz influence faded as the band's
career continued. Other highlights from disc 1 are displayed on such
songs as, "THREE BABYLON," "IT'S NOT OUR WISH" and
"RAINBOW CULTURE," These songs have the perfect combination
of inspired lyrics, strong riddims, memorable melodies and punchy horn
fills. Each of these three songs (originally on the
"SHOWCASE" album), are stretched out to include their dub
versions.Finishing out the first disc are some live versions of
their early work including a never before released version of
"TUFF WE TUFF." These crowd-pleasing performances were
recorded at the Notting Hill Carnival. These 1983 live recordings are
considered by many reggae fans to be the bands last great recordings
After 1983 the band's integrity took a nosedive as ASWAD'S original
following, (myself included), became disillusioned by ASWAD'S lack of
roots, its increasing ease with pop ballads, slick production style,
and over-reliance on revives and do-overs (other artist's songs).
Fortunately, the band recorded enough music (about 5 albums worth)
between 1984 and 1990 to make up one good discs' worth of material.
This material is collected on disc two of "ROOTS ROCKING THE
ISLAND ANTHOLOGY."Disc two opens up with an awesome do-over of
the classic Toots and the Maytals' hit, "56-46 (WAS MY
NUMBER)." The dancehall elements on this song give an early hint
at the band's interest in other areas besides roots music. Next up is
Aswad's ode to ganja, "JUST A LITTLE HERB." The song has a
deep slurred trombone line courtesy of Vin Gordon that is, in simple
terms, intoxicating. The band's foray into pop ballads and
dancehall-style reggae, are covered on the disc as well. Their sugary
pop reggae style is displayed on mid eighties cuts such as "NEED
Although their pop ballads are fairly lightweight, the music still has
a cool and easy feel to it that is pleasant enough. Songs that
venture into dancehall territory like "KOOL NOH,"
"GIMMIE THE DUB," and "THE MESSAGE" produce a vibe
that is made for both the dance floor and the poolside. A big lush
12" version of ASWAD'S 1988 crossover hit, "DON'T TURN
AROUND" sounds pretty good with its smooth keyboard textures and
a bouncy rhythm. There even contains a nice little dub in the middle
of the tune. Not really reggae but not really bad either.
Incidentally, more recently a similar pop version of this song was an
international hit for Swedish group Ace of Base.A few of the songs
on the disc ("DANCING ON MY OWN," and "SMILE") are
difficult to appreciate if only because they are so far removed from
ASWAD'S earlier excellence. These bland tunes sound like any other
90's style top 40 song, and don't match the band's otherwise excellent
summer -skankin' musical approach.One of my favorite ASWAD songs
"FIRE" is presented here, on the second disc, in its massive
12' form. This killer song melds roots with dancehall in an awesome
way. D.J. Shabba Ranks guest vocals on this tune add to what is
already a hot song. The band demonstrates their finest vocals on
"FIRE." Such amazing skill is presented as they sing,
"There's a fire, ah well, burning in my soul," their voices
harmonizing the descending melody as they stretch out the word,
"soul." The contrast between Shabba's gruff voice and the
band's smooth vocals is just an overwhelming combination.This
14-year retrospective covers a lot of territory. It displays ASWADS
versatile approach to music but it also uncovers the band's later
desperation for a hit single. ASWAD's attempt at a pop ballads
brought them chart-topping success but at the cost of losing some of
their original fans. However, the band's late 80's period is not to
be overlooked as songs such as "FIRE" and "OLD
FIRESTICK" prove. Despite a series of dramatic fluctuations in
personnel, popularity and styles, Aswad continue to be one of
Britain's most enduring bands and this ostentatious package is good
evidence as to why. Recommended. Respect! -Mark
"Homebody" Groesbeck