Aswad – Warriors

Release Date: Sep 94
Chart Position: 33

As I read the title of this tune I was hoping it would be in some way related to the film of the same name, chronicling one extremely camp looking gang’s journey back through hostile New York as they’re pursued by even camper looking gangs with names like ‘The Boppers’. Then I remembered the two were nearly twenty years apart so it was unlikely.
I think at this stage it’s only fair to note this ain’t really neggae;

  1. It’s an original song, not a cover;
  2. The production sounds like a proper band, not the Casio Reggae production of Jamie’s music teacher;
  3. There’s no featuring artist, no Jack Radics, Johnny Gill, Bubbling Ranks etc.

This song is as strong as anything in their body of work and stands the test of time like ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, ‘So Lonely’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and other reggae classics.
The song kicks off with Zeb junior uttering the slightly bizarre phrase ‘Would you mind saying that again?’, all it’s missing is ‘my dear thing’ off the end of the question and to sound like a Henry Blofield quote. The music kicks in and sounds like it’s from the pioneering days of the ‘wad, Steel Pulse and early yowbs, they’ve made a few allowances for modern production techniques but have used them sparingly to enhance the song rather than going over the top and killing it Ace of Base style. The intro is Morricone-esque and then the horns and base kick in and you’re dragged into the jauntiness of the song. Lyrically it’s a call for people to emancipate themselves from mental slavery and stand up and fight like Warriors. This is stirring stuff, it’s my football (soccer to you Norm) team’s first game on Saturday, I’ve ordered the Red, Gold and Green kit, this is going on in the changing room and then we’re going to wrap tea towels round our heads and do the West Byfleet Haka on the halfway line pre match. I’ve not finalised the choreography for this yet but have emailed Louie Spence for some tips. There’s a great bass break at 2m30 and it’s time for Zeb to drop some science. This is the only let down of the track for me as there aren’t any sporting hero references, so I’ve taken the liberty of writing it myself.
‘Peter Such, with the killer touch,
Head bostin’ like Dean Austin,
No man can make dem fear dem like Ray Reardon,
Sandy Lyle slaying them in style,
With these badmen we shall never fall, because they’re warriors one and all’
You can have that one for free Zeb.
The video’s like a cross between ‘Laurence of Arabia’ and a school nativity play. I think they went to start filming and suddenly realised they’d forgotten about the costumes.
‘Shit Brinsley, how much budget do we have left?’
‘Five pounds’
‘Right, I’m going to Robert Dyas, looks like they’ve got a tea towel sale on, we’ll use them’
In fairness to them this is the ‘Die Hard’ of Neggae videos, they’ve thrown some cash at it, got some action scenes, it has a shout of being the greatest Neggae vid ever made. (Neggae Fact: this was the first public exposure for Oliver Skeete as he was the stunt double for the band in the horse riding scenes.)
9.5/10 – This is neggae’s ‘Jerusalem’, a call to arms, loses 0.5 because there’s no toasting about sporting heroes.


Not Aswads greatest effort. I like Aswad, but I lost interest in this just after the intro. I am sure if you listen to it properly it has some deeper meaning and some important messages. However it was lost on me as I continued to stress about writing my profile that I am being bullied into by the other neg elders and the weight of it all has resulted in me losing my ability to think straight and concentrate.
I don’t understand the lyrics, what is he was going on about? Is he oppressed? Pissed off? Been dumped? Run out of Malibu? Who knows (I am more than aware of my ignorance here, but as it was not immediately apparent to me I did not mull it over). I am not sure about the whole Island meets Persia theme and I don’t get how Aswad who are a Caribbean Reggae band have written a jazz influenced track and then dressed up like Aladdin to deliver it. It just makes no sense. It’s a powerful song, don’t get me wrong, but I am just not sure what they are getting at.
I would have preferred to have seen it used to introduce Warrior (Aka Michael Ahearne) on Gladiators, instead he used to come out to ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’. I am pretty sure the beauty of Gladiators was that we actually had seen it all (yet), it was just so good we wanted to watch it over and over again. I think Warrior, Gladiators and Aswad would all have been better off using this track when he entered the arena clutching his Pugil Stick ready for battle.
Good song, poor delivery, misguided production and a massive wasted opportunity……4/10 from me.

Aswad, Warriors. Good tune.
You can count on these lads to get across their message in a way that keeps you involved throughout. A lot of their songs include content that promotes the struggle for the black youth of our society (stole that from Wikipedia) back in the day. I really don’t want to get into a race conversation (mainly because i’m not qualified) but as I listen to this song and scroll down the comment on youtube it becomes quite apparent that there are some racist mo fo’s out there. One guy said it best and this is how I go about life:
“The people is the people, no white no black but people!!!
EQUAL RIGHT for all the people!!”
Let’s stick to that and we should be fine. Right?
Anyway, back to the song. We have a Aswad delivering a decent tune, nothing earth shattering or ground breaking, just a solid and steady 3minutes and 39 seconds of Neg. Nice use of the young lad who contributes the upbeat verses / rap throughout (the same lad who stole the show rapping about Colin Jackson, Nigel Benn in Shine) By the way, that’s my favourite solo so far in the Hot 90.
So, in summary, my review has hit a bit of a road block, I just listened to “Shine” a couple of times and now can’t get back on track to finish “Warriors”. I will say that the tempo is a wee bit slow for me, but I’ll give them a pass on that as the video at least shows some enterprise as it is not the typical studio / back alley pish the the UB40 crew offer up every week.
Put me down for 7/10 – and a little message to all the warriors out there. Listen to the bloke that I quoted off You Tube earlier in my review. Don’t get caught up in the bullsh*t, enjoy everyone for who they are, not what they look like (unless the look like Ali Campbell and co). I promise not to get on my soap box next week!

The one criticism that could be leveled at Neggae is its levity. Compared to its forefather Reggae, the music of CJ Lewis and Bitty McLean can be viewed as rather frothy, almost insignificant. Peter Tosh and Bob Marley were viewed as prophets, and wondered if basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all, CJ’s philosophy was very much of the Ribidibidibidumbayeh mindset.
So it’s with welcome arms that we receive Aswad, to brings some roots consciousness to the Neggae party. And they do so with a competent  retread of their 1980 crossover hit Warrior Charge. I absolutely love the snake-like Warrior charge, its winding hypnotic horn section is truly mesmerizing, and the crashing drums ensure the skank is strong.
Is Warriors better? Of course not. They’ve added some lyrics, and digitzed the beat, but they’ve lost the shabby charm of the oridge. That said, they f*ckin wrote it, so if they want to revisit it I wont stand in their way. The song itself is just one of many in the reggae-militia genre (see also War, Buffalo Soldier, Present Arms, Soldiers in Jah Army – any more?) – and it bristles with righteous indignation and fire. Nowhere else on the Neggae list will you hear Rastafarian sufferation writ large as it is here – which is to be commended.
The song does drag a little I think, and would have benefitted from a middle eight or bridge to keep my attention. Yes young Solomon gets a little runout, but where his rap on Shine was a revelation, here it meanders slightly. Perhaps the incense on the video trip got to him a little. On the subject of the video – these boys don’t mind a little jolly do they? Very much the Duran Duran of the Neggae video canon. Shine earnt them a trip back to JA, and this looks like it was shot in Northern Africa. I doubt the 33 chart placing recouped this Jewel in the Nile inspired promo – but that’s how the music industry worked in the 90s kids.
Score: 6/10. Like Alan Bennett poems, worthy and important but ultimately rather boring.

What have we here? Another file from the Neggae vault which seems to have passed me by first time around. That’s probably because this Neggae chugger only peaked at 33 in the UK charts when released on Bubblin records in September 1994.
Its a different animal to Shine , which to this day remains Aswads second most successful single release behind the 80’s smash “Don’t turn around”. Although any 90’s Neggae fan would probably associate Aswad with the former rather than the latter.
So where does Warriors fit in? Listening to it now I admire what Aswad tried to do with this single. I probably wouldn’t have in 1994.
If anything it seems a move away from 90’s Neggae and edges slightly closer to Aswads Reggae roots. Rather than cheapen themselves with a shine mach 2, the boys have elected to produce a new piece of music in an old format. The same way that Amy Winehouse built a career as a 50’s throwback soul singer. Nothing wrong with it if you can pull it off and I think in this instance Warriors is a passable Reggae or Neggae tune.
The opening toast and guitar riff set the tone. The drum in fills are perfect and the beats that follow are solid. Above all else this song has a great lazy horn section. All the elements are there and compliment each other beautifully. Its a great piece of down tempo reggae music.
The one draw back for me on this one is the lyrical content. Its not a bad performance from Drummie Zeb, I just find it really hard to take him seriously as it borders on eggyness. In the video theres a fair bit of posturing yet the other members in the band are just having a giggle in the back round.
This little bridge is pretty camp…
“When the day is done, and tomorrow comes, we will still remember that the struggle goes on…”
It kind of makes everything feel like a montage from a spoof movie or a bad action film. I have expect it to cut to shots of The Mummy 6 Graveyard of the film maker at any minute.
Drummie’s son also gets a token rap after his stirling efforts on shine. Sadly though due to the slower tempo on this one it doesn’t seem to carry as much clout. After he gives it a “Baassss line!” , there’s actually a 4 beat dance break where you see him bogling in the North African desert. This builds up suspense, your kind of ready for him to make a big entry and tell a little story for 30 seconds. Then… a huge anti climax. 4 lines and not one of them features any kind of North African Sporting legends. Disappointing.
He’s missed a trick there, I think that would have been the difference, especially to me and my 12 year old pals down the park.
Zinedine Zidane he’s a footballing man.
Said Aouita… running like a cheetah.
Haile Gebrselassie… loves his mango lassie.
Then you got Mido… Looks like Stephen Reido… He’s just Mido…enough about Mido.

There you go. done.
All in all another decent entry from Aswad. Nice music but bad lyrics so unlike “Colin Jack-san the hurdling man” this one falls down at the final hurdle. 7 out of 10 from me.



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