Aswad – Live In London

by May 10, 2024Mini-Review, Reviews

Aswad - Live In London

Release Info

Label
SMC Records
Format
DR
Street date
May 10, 2024
Contact
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Tracklist

01. Intro Medley: Kush / Old Fire Stick / Ease Up / Your Love
02. Medley: Bubbling / 54-46 Was (My Number)
03. Just A Little Herb
04. Babylon
05. Roots Rocking
06. Caution
07. Smokey Blues
08. African Children
09. Drum And Bass Line
10. On And On
11. Don’t Turn Around
12. Dub Fire
13. Warrior Charge
14. Shine

When it comes to live albums in reggae music history, Aswad’s 1983 LP Live And Direct stands out as a release of real significance. Recorded at their peak during a crowd-pleasing performance at Meanwhile Gardens at Notting Hill Carnival, that album now gets its follow-up titled Live In London. With a musical career spanning from 1974 to the present, Aswad has released approximately 21 albums, scored numerous hit songs, received three Grammy Award nominations, embarked on extensive tours, undergone multiple line-up changes, and sadly lost Angus “Drummie Zeb” Gaye in 2022.

Recorded at a sold-out show in 2023, as one might expect, this Live In London set brings the listener many beloved classics and fan favourites. Aswad’s lead vocalists Soloman, son of founding member Drummie Zeb, and bassie Tony “Gad” Robinson are expertly backed by Chris Thompson (drums), Andrew Smith (guitar), Andre Hall and Isaac Agree (keyboards), and Henry “Matic” Tenyue (trombone/backing vocals).

In the opening 22 minutes, listeners are treated to a medley of songs that includes Toots & The Maytals’ 54-46 Was (My Number) along with original Aswad tracks. While it makes for a pleasant beginning to the album, it ultimately fails to generate much excitement. The captivating Just A Little Herb, a song from 1984 album Rebel Souls, is the first track that is presented in its entirety. Next comes the first exciting piece, the roots tune Babylon, which, produced by Michael ‘Reuben” Campbell, came out on 12″ Single and was featured on the 1981 Showcase album. The live version of Drum & Bass Line from Aswad’s 1982 album “Not Satisfied” is well-executed but lacks the wow factor. When Aswad switched to a more poppy reggae style, it brought them hits like On And On, Don’t Turn Around, and Shine, which are, of course, crowd favorites and appear in their setlist. Standout performances include African Children, Dub Fire, and Warrior Charge.

Even though you know it’s not fair to compare the two live albums, you find yourself doing it anyway. The electrifying energy emanating from a band on fire was palpable while playing the legendary album Live And Direct. While the music is undeniably infectious and lively, that same magic is only partially present when listening to Live In London.

Babylon

African Children

Warrior Charge

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