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Roots Revival

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Album Review

Roots Revival is an apt title for this album, since Aswad's greatest successes have been as a pop-reggae crossover band, most notably with the huge 1988 hit "Don't Turn Around." On this one the group returns to its roots with a vengeance. The sound is still pretty slick, but the material includes a remake of Ken Boothe's rocksteady classic "Freedom Street," two seldom-covered Bob Marley tunes ("Caution" and "Thank You Lord"), a decent cover of the Police's "Invisible Sun" (featuring Sting in a guest appearance), and a bunch of relatively roots-wise new originals. The only remaining members of the band, Drummie Zeb and Tony Gad still have a great melodic sense, as evidenced on the smooth and silky "Follow '99" and the churning "Breakout." But the rhythms are deep and compelling as well, resulting in a sound that will move them in the dancehall even as it pleases more roots-oriented fans.


Formed: 1975 in London, England

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Aswad was arguably Britain's most successful reggae band, in terms of both popularity and longevity. Critical opinion on their body of work is often divided; some hail their early material as the greatest roots reggae Britain ever produced, while others find their later pop-crossover phase more distinctive and unique, even at the expense of authenticity. Regardless, Aswad's ability to adapt themselves to the changing times -- new musical trends, shifting personnel -- was ultimately the driving force...
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