Aswad – Shine


Release Date: Jun 94
Chart Position: 5

Norm

Oi you, UB40, listen up. Watch this video and pay attention on how to create a solid Neggae video on a low budget without boring your audience to tears with that soulless, pathetic black and white pish you’ve been putting out there. 20 years too late for this advice I know but I thought I would throw you a bone. Well, now I’ve got that out of my system and bashed UB40 sufficiently I can move on. Oh and Ace of Base, you’re not out of the woods on this one either.
Well, lets try and put together a review for Aswad and Shine shall we. I may be wrong, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen Aswad in the Hot 90 and if that’s the case all I can say is it’s about time. Our dredlocked friends have put together a sweet tune which is fun, tropical (Malibu worthy) and generally uplifting. I love the slow ooh, ahh, ooh ahh intro followed by the swift, faster tempo vocal set. We’ve got a great combination of Islistic (doubt that’s a word) vocals and background music that compliments each other nicely. The video is simple and full of island life, cricket in the streets, bathing beauties and re-inacting Karate Kid in the ocean.
The rap at around 2m30s is sublime, I’ve never picked up on this before as I’m not great at translating the organic, island lingo. Here it is in it’s entirety for those interested:

Oh, oh, oh, oh, shine
Shine, shine your light Shine, shine your light
Yes, we’re badder than bad

Nigel Benn, the warrior, called the Dark Destroyer, Eubank, simply the best, nobody alive can touch that Linford Christle, say nobody alive can catch me
Moving like lightning with enough energy
Shine, shine your light Yes, we’re badder than bad Shine, shine your lightYes, we’re badder than bad
Him a floating like a butterfly, the hurdling man Yes, me a chat about Colin Jackson The crowd is roaring, Ian Wright scoring Boogie man a fe the mighty champion fe we (Ooh, ooh, ooh)

I’m kicking myself as I write this for not picking up on the Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Linford Christie and Colin Jackson references earlier considering these guys were probably my favourite athletes back in the day. Anyway this song is the Nigel Benn of Neggae, a true warrior of song, lots of flash and bravado but backs it up with a knockout of a tune.
So, back to Ace of Base, that rap from last week was so piss poor it still irks me. As we know the majority of solid neggae tunes contain a little bit of freestyling at some stage and I think it’s clear that AOB doesn’t grasp the seriousness of this as an integral part of the song. Bottom line is Aswad get it, Chaka Demus and Pliers get it, Shabba gets it but the nords seem to think it’s a damn joke and put that robotic twonk Hans in for a limp 10 seconds worth of well you can figure it out. Bravo Aswad for keeping it real and managing to slide Colin Jackson into it made it even better.
Oh and the best review Ive seen so far is on youtube from a bloke that said this about the song:
I don’t need weed to be happy and high. With music like this?
Music is enough.
Score: Put me down for an inspiring and uplifting 9/10 and Shine on people!

Aswad - Shine (Mix) - Bubblin' Records 1994

Gouldy

This week it’s the turn of britneg pioneers Aswad and they’re not messing about. Although respected throughout the world of neggae Brinsley and co had only achieved middling commercial success since their 1988 number 1 ‘Don’t turn around’, which was killed by Ace of Base as discussed last week. Their first sojourn into neggae was an ill advised duet with Yazz but fortunately they changed the formula, got the beatmasters in to remix and neggae alchemy took place as this song was turned to gold. The song kicks off with the greatest ‘ooh ah’ since Gina G with some serious dubby bass and more drums than a military tattoo. The tempo is unrelenting as it takes you on a magic carpet ride of positivity, listening to this I’ve even started to think Spurs might get top 4. As well as the riddim section there are joyous horns and an acid squelch that Timbaland built a career on, there’s more going on in this song than the 1978 Top of the Pops Christmas party but the difference is Aswad won’t be arrested 30 years later, unless it’s for crimes against negativity.
Lyrically this is the neggae equivalent of a self help tape, it spurs you on to greater things, Jamie had this on constant loop until he completed level 37 of Candy Crush. Vocally they’re as superb as you’d expect and then there’s a bit of toasting which lists positive role models who’s example should be followed;

  • Nigel Benn – former coke addict;
  • Chris Eubank – declared bankrupt after owing £1.3m in taxes;
  • Linford Christie – drug cheat;
  • Colin Jackson – despite this confirmed bachelors nice guy image he is in fact a potential arsonist;
  • Ian Wright – confirmed dickhead.

A questionable list of rogues but as they say hindsight’s a wonderful thing and I’m sure the lads had good intentions at heart. The video’s standard neggae fair, in fact it could almost be a sequel to this.
9/10 – Would have been 10 but they name check Ian Wright

Jonny
A bit like Triggers Brush in Only Fools and Horses, Aswad have been around for years in some form or another and I was surprised to learn that that they have released no fewer than 21 albums (clearly did not do my home work on the first Aswad review we did). I think they were a bit unlucky not to get a higher spot with Shine as I really like this tune. It is staggering that this only reached number 5, particularly as this is the same as Ace Of Base’s car crash from last week. The release of this track seemed to hit a sweet spot in terms of where the genre was at the time and their tune fit nicely with the mood of the nation now almost in a reggae frenzy (Freggae? Or is that going too far?). This is only fueling my suspicions that the Swedish mafia were involved in some kind of top 40 match fixing scandal using the cash to rapidly expand Ikea’s dominance in the Home Furnishings and Bullshit market (this neg blog has done nothing for my opinion of the Swedes, I now see them as villains in almost everything).
The intro is instantly recognisable and within 3 seconds I was mentally in Norm’s Fiesta cruising West Byfleets Lower Eastside, baseball cap back to front and smoking an Embassy Filter (you remember the small ones that were half as long as normal smokes, you could kill them in three sittings). Stopping only at Happy Shopper to refill on Rio Tropical Fruit Punch after getting laughed at for attempting to illegally purchase a four pack of Red Stripe. Once we get past the intro the tempo gets pumped up and the horns get involved at about 30 seconds in and it all goes off. Even the rap midway through I like, I am not normally a fan of a rap bridge, but somehow this works nicely.
The video is textbook neg and is nothing more complex than Aswad and their crew being cool and doing Island dude shit.
Score: Well done chaps and what a nice recovery after two frustrating weeks – 8/10!

Vince
Like the UBs and Dawn Penn , file this one in the ‘cashing in one’s Neggae chips’  folder. Aswad have been a mainstay of British reggae since 1975, and while most Mum’s know them as “the Don’t Turn Around” lads, this is the other type of Aswad. The rootsy, authentic Wailers-influenced Britreggae pioneers responsible for bangers such as Warrior Charge and Love Fire. On Shine, Aswad deliver an authentic Rastafarian dance monster with an uplifting message that Sir Bob would be proud of. They manage to capitalize on the surge in popularity of Reggae without having to sacrifice their dignity by covering dead fat rockers, or massacring Brit-psychedelic classics like some of their other veteran peers.
The song itself is a simple and elegant paean to self-improvement, with beautiful close-knit backing harmonies and organic, clever instrumentation throughout. Aswad occupy that same soul-reggae crossover territory once held by Third World – in fact (to me) Shine has echoes of Third World’s breakout cover hit “Now that we Found Love.”
After a low-key introduction, the song Neggaefies around the 30 second mark (thanks to the deft production of The Beatmasters) and we’re off into Jah orbit. Beats and horns blaze up full of righteous glory. Just when the song looks like it’s about to peter out, in comes young Soloman Gaye (son of Drummer Zeb) to give the tune a further modern twist. His dancehall toasting championing black UK heroes is nothing short of inspiring and shows maturity beyond his tender 15 years.
There is no way you can listen to this song and not move ya body– it is a blissful summer banger and it makes you proud to be British. If we’d have entered this into the following Eurovision Song content instead of Love City Groove we’d have won the thing.
Score: 9.5/10 (loses half a point for not smashing out a full-on dancehall riddim during Soloman’s rap.)

Jamie
What’s not to like about Shine by Aswad?
For me, this is one of a handful of songs that epitomises UK Neggae and encapsulates a fantastic Summer down the park playing World Cup doubles.  This would generally be after some loitering around the newly built  Brookwood Sainsbury’s, where we would routinely smash through Apple Donuts and Classic Cola whilst winding up Nayim to see if he’d chase us out of the cafeteria again.
When shine came on Lee Lobogun’s (dad’s) boom box down the park everyone’s game seemed to step up a level. If it was World Cup doubles, out came the step overs, nutmegs and back and heels. If it was heads and vollies, ordinary straight forward opportunities for a volley would be shunned in favour of an injury inducing diving header. The occasional outrageous bicycle kick would be taken on despite the fact that you were likely to blaze it 6 feet wide and end up between the sticks. It didn’t matter if you did because upon sticking the gloves on you’d immediately be transformed into Thomas Ravelli. Throwing yourself about like some sort of Swedish Mentalist.
Released 6 years after their massive hit Don’t Turn Around, this track is something that Aswad wouldn’t have dared to release in their 80’s hey day. From the off set this track is bubbling up. The indian style tabla’s, the vocals, the harmony’s then the classic drum roll to boot in a solid Reggae beat which would today be considered Moombahton.
This is followed by a stabbing horn section and a deftly, subtly plucked steel guitar melody and some inspiring lyrics which carry a message of Racial equality in 90’s Britain:

I burn like a fire left in the rain
As I run the race, oh yes I feel the pain
From the resistance I’m feeling the strain
Now the realization is that we are all born the same
 …… Inspiring stuff. The sort of thing the UB’s used to write about in the 80’s.

Just After the 2 minute mark comes the Rap in fill. I’m sure this will divide the Elders but personally I think its fantastic. Its short , its sweet, it captures the essence of the song and ties all loose ends together. The rapper, Soloman was 15 when he recorded this! A Brixton boy and son of Drummie Zeb, one of the founders of Aswad, Soloman was quite literally spoon fed Reggae from birth.
One day during a telephone conversation with his dad from the studio, Soloman overheard the track which the other members had decided could do with an in fill.
The next day Soloman was in the studio having jotted down some lyrics to fit in with the songs underlying  message. This is what he came up with:

Oh, oh, oh, oh, shine
Shine, shine your light
Shine, shine your light
Yes, we’re badder than bad

Nigel Benn, the warrior, called the Dark Destroyer
Eubank, simply the best, nobody alive can touch that
Linford  Christie, say nobody alive can catch me
Moving like lightning with enough energy

Shine, shine your light
Yes, we’re badder than bad
Shine, shine your light
Yes, we’re badder than bad

Him a floating like a butterfly, the hurdling man
Yes, me a chat about Colin Jackson
The crowd is roaring, Ian Wright scoring
Boogie man a fe the mighty champion fe we

Not bad for a 15 year old I’m sure you’ll agree, and to top it all this is also the first time he’d ever recorded as an artist or turned his hand to rapping.  Solomans rap about his favourite Black British Sporting Icons soon reached cult status and had 12 year old kids up and down the country trying to replicate his skills during a great summer of Sunshine and football.
This song is nothing but good times.  10 out of 10 from me. 

NEGGAE SCORE: 9.1

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2 thoughts on “Aswad – Shine

    • Thanks Eddy!
      It’s a bit of fun for the five of us – though we do truly love the music. Well most of it anyway.

      Your blog looks great – I shall be following.

      All the best,
      Vince.

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