Aswad – You’re No Good

Release Date: Feb 95
Chart Position: 35

Aswad; You’re No Good. I wouldn’t go that far mate! Shine was good, this was so-so. But maybe he’s singing about Ace of Base?
“you’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good…..your swedish p****s”
But unfortunately I doubt it. There should be more band/artist rivalry and sledging of each other within in lyrics. Negwars! That would be smart!
This would sit somewhere between Shine and the strange and confusing Warriors effort, although I think that the charts would suggest otherwise as this only got to no 35. Its almost the same track as Shine isn’t it? The intro is anyway and when I loaded it up thought I was listening to the wrong track. The first 30 secs is almost identical, the echoey vocals, the synthetic backbeat, the soft horn section, we’ve heard it all before. I appreciate that you should play to your strengths, but this is a little lazy and too formulaic.

Step 1 –
Take previous hit
Step 2 – Remove lyrics
Step 3 – Overlay new lyrics
Step 4 – Light bifter

I doubt Aswad would appreciate it if every review I did I simply copy and pasted a previous effort and just changed a few of the words without giving it my full attention and the dilligence that it deserves? Actually… lets not mention that, forget I said anything.
I like Aswad and they’ve delivered some classics, but this is not one of them. The video again is just following the blueprint of fun in the sun with hot girls looking good and acting as if they like the noys. That only works if you back it up with a good tune, or maybe the video is actually from another track as well? That would surely make this then the laziest offering we have ever reviewed?
Score: a 4/10 from me.Aswad+-+You're+No+Good+-+12-+RECORD_MAXI+SINGLE-195751

Aswad – You’re no good.
That could be my entire review. I’ll humour our audience with a few lines of fluff about this dreadful effort by one of my favourite bands and then I’ll get back to not listening to this and trying to delete it from my memory banks.
This one starts off slow with some standard Aswad beats, horns and strings. It doesn’t pick up pace, no rap or break with our young chap that lit up Shine, just 3 minutes or so of “You’re no good” repeated over and over again. The video is boring too; it lacks a lot. In fact I’m not even sure what it’s missing as I think I nodded off after 90 seconds.
Time to move on. A shame that after being  treated to a couple of good weeks on the blog we now have this mediocore effort.
Score: An uninspiring 3/10. Here’s a picture of Homer Simpson negging out to cheer us all up…1371447_10152243544073776_240217145_n

After the mighty neggae call to arms that was ‘Warriors’ Brinsley and the boys followed up with their take on the much covered ‘You’re no good’. Originally a hit for Betty Everett it was revived and made famous by Linda Ronstadt, however the version I was most familiar with was by the Swinging Blue Jeans as it sound tracked many a 2 day drive across France and Spain (followed by ‘Hippy Hippy Shakes’ on my Dad’s C90 I believe) as I was sat in the back seat with my two younger sisters, losing layers of skin as the faux leather interior didn’t stand up to the rigours of blazing Continental sun. That’s enough of my misty eyed recollections of getting third degree burns whilst listening to Genesis and Simple Minds and on with the review.
It starts with Brinsley’s slowed down almost choral singing of the chorus then the neg kicks in, well sort of, the beat reminds me of this rather than straight up neg but the horns add a layer of sun kissed authenticity to proceedings. As the song progresses there’s no real change up a sort of electronic didgeridoo sound’s introduced which is like Daft Punk covering ‘Sun Arise’ (do not click on this link if you’re easily offended by pedalos) but is hardly exciting. The vocals aren’t great and sound like they’ve been tampered with which is a bit unnecessary, these boys did ‘Beauty’s only skin deep’ they don’t need studio tampering. Lyrically there’s not a great deal going on but this isn’t the Azzas fault as the original could hardly be described as a wordy tome, a harsher person than me might say this is the lyrical equivalent of a Helen Keller tweet. The gist is they had a decent sort then much like Eve in the Garden of Eden were tempted away by forbidden fruit and it didn’t work out as they soon discover the pootang’s not always greener just because there’s a slagtag involved. They then ponder asking forgiveness but realise that the whole ‘no good’ thing could be flipmoded back onto them as they’ve basically broken someone’s heart because they’ve been blinded by the ability to suck a golf ball through a hosepipe. Thems the breaks lads, sometimes you have to take responsibility for your shoddy actions and take it on the chin, much like the brazen temptress of the piece did. I had a nagging feeling I’d heard this version before and then it dawned on me, that wasn’t the case, it just sounds like Boney bleeding M, and not one of their good’uns. Boney M with dreadlocks, pretty sure that’s been done before. They’re also lacking a guest rap about sporting stars which seems a golden opportunity missed with the chorus to berate people like Tom McKean who never really shone at the top level, Zeb must have been pissed off.
The video was clearly shot in the same weekend break that they did the ‘Warriors’ video which represents good business sense but loses points for originality which is a charge that could be laid on the whole video.

Neggae video checklist

  • Swimming Pool;
  • Scantily clad, unattainable women;
  • Sunshine;
  • Berking about with horns.

We’ve nearly got a full house here.
Although it’s nice to see Juan Pablo Sorin (the only Argentinean footballer named after a brand of Malt Loaf) popping up on 50 seconds.
Score: Although this may well be the only entry in the top 90 where the song title also acts as an introspective review of the song I can’t give it any higher than 4/10.

Keith De Vivre
In a probable first for the Neggae Hot 90, this may well be the only time a neg tune has been reviewed from the magnificent country of Bangladesh.
I’ve asked around a bit with the locals about whether the neg movement ever hit the subcontinent back in the day… Unfortunately, as I was met with blank faces, this survey yielded inconclusive results. But I’d be surprised if it didn’t. The shit was global. After two days here, I’ve noticed that the Bangladeshi people walk with a kind of swagger that could only be borne of a background of neg. What with the locals’ natural gait and the Ace of Base bangin’ out over a breakfast curry, it’s telling me the place was riddled with the neg circa 92-94. But to the job in hand… It’s Aswad.
Ah Aswad. Faithful Aswad.
You really can’t go wrong with Aswad can you? Everybody likes Aswad, even if it’s just to say their name. Aswad.

I’m going to have to keep this short and sweet before the sleeping tabs kick in:

  • For me, as a Neggae novice, they’re the epitome of the genre.
  • Dreads and hats look great.
  • You can’t go wrong with a synchronised horn section.
  • Bikini-clad women getting out of a pool in slo-mo is a cheap trick that delivers every time.
  • Was every neg tune a cover?
  • Getting on – and staying on – an inflatable swimming pool chair whilst staying bone dry is an art that deserves a point in itself.

That’s it.
It’s no Shine, but it’s Aswad. Solid stuff.
I’m going to bed.
Score: 6.5/10

In the 90s you see, the way it worked was like this:

Record company type: How d’you get on lads?
Aswad: Yeah we did OK, charted at Number 17. Went on TOTP and shit. All good?
Record company type: Marvellous! Here’s another 10k. Well done!
*rubs head, pats bum (a la Norm and the little Chinese barman in Weatherspoons).

And that’s how it was – bundles of cash to spunk on exotic videos and tours, which is what Aswad did.
After Shine and Warriors, Aswad enjoyed their spoils, and rather pointlessly covered this 60s standard. You’ll forgive my lack of enthusiasm, but I cannot stand the original record. From the age of 5 or 6, both Jamie and I were subjected to 60 megamix” double cassette volumes 1 and 2 in our Dad’s Datsun Sunny. A hellish, Jive Bunny style cut-and-shut affair – it was a who’s who’s of affordable also-rans of 60s music.. The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Motown and Stax artists – none of these were present because Telstar or K-Tel or Dino couldnt afford them.

You’re No Good was on there. Oh Yes. I must have heard “you’re no good” about 87 times in my life on a sh*t car stereo basically.  And at no time has it improved my life. I’m assuming it’s by some Merseybeat knock-off mob like everything that ever came out of Liverpool 63-65. Probably Gerry & the Dakotas. Or Billy J Cilla or whatever.
It sounds Beatlish but its not. I’m struggling to think of any stellar-superduper-amazing music that’s ever come out of Liverpool apart from the Beatles to be honest. Usually I look this sort of stuff up but its such a drainer I honestly cant be f*cked.
I don’t know who at Aswad HQ decided it was a good idea to give YNG the Ibeefa treatment, but whoever he (or she) was, deserves a pat on the back for being the laziest person in the history of Neggae. Cleary on a roll at this point, they spunked the cash on a decent video and covered an old standard with a few acidy squelches and horns.
Score: 2/10. Must try harder.



Aswad – Shine

Release Date: Jun 94
Chart Position: 5


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


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

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!

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.)

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. 


Ace of Base – Don’t Turn Around

Release Date: June 94
Chart Position: 5

Now I am one of Ace of Base’s most loyal supporters, but this time I’m afraid they’re on their own. The last release I experienced that was this whiffy was when our kid Jamie had an accident in the portaloo at Mayburyfest, but let’s not dwell on that. Ace of Base have delivered a royal stinker and here’s why:

1. It’s a cover of a cover
It’s like when you photocopy a photocopy, the quality degrades and the colours mutate. Or when you make a copy of a copy of a song. Things get distorted and corrupted. I actually don’t rate Tina Turner’s original, but it is just that so we have to respect it. But Aswad’s take on it is a thing of beauty, and Ace of Base have frankly pissed all over it. Now I love the hallmarks of AOB’s trademark sound (that electro-flute noise, that sax flare before the chorus), but by remaking it in a minor key with cheap production they’ve sucked all the life out of the song.
This is the only track where a Neggae artist covers another Neggae artist so could have been something beautiful. Unfortunately the Swedish Neggae Mafia have completely Schettinoed it.

2. The video
Just awful. Cheer up you moody f*ckers. Sub 6th-form arthouse tosh, all cheap sepia and black and white washes coupled with a slab of vaseline applied to the camera. I know this was how most videos were shot in the 90s, but when the likes of Madonna and MJ did it they spent a few bucks on the quality of the film used and it shows.

3. ‘That’ rap
I’m putting it out there that this might be the worst rap ever committed to vinyl. It doesn’t rhyme or scan, and it sounds like he gives up halfway. Why am I surprised; Yurps have a fine history of woeful spitting. See here, here or here for examples.

A Neggae acolyte Paul ‘Coley’ Coleman has written a wonderful thesis on the parallels of the Sceggae scene and the Swedish football team in the 90s. It’s a wonderful read; so wonderful in fact that I deleted it accidentally. Anyway, a month after this song was released, Sweden would come 3rd in the 1994 World cup and then begin their slow and steady decline to the moribund position they currently occupy. The same happened to Ace of Base, and it was their own undoing through pony like this.
Score: 3/10.

Ace of Base, excellent. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. What a classic. A classic non-reggae, non-neggae Scandinavian pop song.
The intro sets the overall tone of the song and gets you into the groove – right? Wrong. For starters, th Dr Who, tardis woop woop woop was comical and out of place at best. After hearing that, I replayed it to make sure I was playing the right song. After a careful look, yep, that’s it and off we go into another AOB classic. Although that crazy, off the wall intro may work for the Ace of Baser’s and their devoted scandy fans, it doesn’t jive with me! The song itself is too heavy on the synthetic background noise, poor lyrics and a mind numbingly bad video.
It did have a palm tree in it, so that’s a plus. The highlight for me came at 2.46 of the video when Thor or Anders or whoever started what can only be described as a slow, robotic rap verse. That went on for about 8 seconds longer than it should have. Although by that point in the song, they had already sung “Don’t turn around” 158 times. So on second thoughts, maybe it was a well executed and strategically placed bit of rap to “mix it up” a little. After this “rap” they went on to repeat “Don’t turn around” another 158 times and then it peters out into nothing.
Score: Put me down for 2.5/10. 1 point for the palm tree 1.5 for the amusing rap. Bring back Shabba, please, I’m begging you.

Oh lordy.
Never has someone done something that should be so straight forward and got it so so utterly wrong.
Ace of base have gone down in my estimations.
They’ve gone the same way as Ulrika Johnson, Anders Limpar and the kitsch fabric placemats my partner bought in Ikea three weeks ago. At first they seem like a breath of fresh air, a break from the norm. A bit of flair that livens up an otherwise boring Arsenal team. Or a bubbly new weather girl to splice up Anne Diamonds utter dreariness on GMTV. After 12 series of shooting stars too many however you get a bit sick of the sight of Ulrika and end up turning the TV over. The placemats  are away in a drawer somewhere as theyre making the rest of the room look bad. Don’t ask me what Limpar is up to these days, the thought of him in a ropey JVC Arsenal strip does get on my tits somewhat.
What must Aswad have made of it?
They probably laughed all the way to the bank I imagine. By the time this single was released the record buying public had gone utterly bonkers over AOB’s abstract form of synth pop Neggae.
To top it all off old Ulfy boy has taken to rapping on this one. Not sure if this is worse than a knee jerk shapes he threw in on his last outing. Equally horrible.
Score: Don’t turn around? Don’t worry I won’t. 2 out of 10.

I promised myself that after my last Ace of Base review of the Sign I would be more positive with these guys as I think I might have been a bit tough. I knew it was coming so I only thought happy thoughts going into it. I did a couple of good deeds, listened to I can See Clearly Now and really did everything possible to get me into a happy place. But after only 1 min 40 secs I am ready to self harm.
I am now totally confused by Ace of Base! I remember thinking that they were OK. I don’t think I was ever their number one fan, but don’t ever remember thinking anything too bad of them. But now I am not just annoyed with the four from Gothenburg (you know? that reggae heartland!), but am also thoroughly disappointed with myself for not spotting it earlier. They were really weak and this is surely as bad as it got for them? Thank you to the Neg gods that it is the last of their contributions to the hot 90. I think I would flat out refuse to write anything else about them; even if Gouldy had some kind of punishment against it.
(Vince: Due to a clerical error there are actually another three potential Ace of Base hits we need to review. Sorry Jonny).
I don’t even know where to start ripping this rubbish apart. Rule number one of any cover; I have said it a hundred times; take a great song and make it relevant again. Not take an good song and ruin it, butcher it, sh*t, pi*s and puke on it!! Total money making scam, nothing short of it.
Assume the video was filmed on their private beach on Swedeland?
These twonks have really annoyed me again!
Score: 0.5/10 – only as I am not sure you can give zeroes can you?

‘All that we want is another sceggae’ I hear you cry, and never one to disappoint the masses here it is, sort of. The song was originally written for Tina Turner but relegated to a B side, it was then covered by a number of artists with little success of which my favourite is this, prog-like production, sweet. The most well known version on these shores was released by British Reggae pioneers Aswad, which was the inspiration for the Scandinavian Skankers. The video kicks off with some very solemn spoken word and a focking pelican man flying across a stark looking seascape, this isn’t going to be a sunshine negfest. The skegbeat then kicks in and we get a moody black and white scene reminiscent of a Bergman film. It then catalogues one of the worst looking beach holidays in history, come on guys cheer up, you need to make the most of this daylight because in a few months you’re down to 2 hours a day.
The actual song confuses me, it has great moments like the s-express style acid noises in the background but then the beat and keyboard are cheaper than Aldi own brand digestives. Vocals aren’t really up my street, fairly downbeat and depressing which is fair enough in the works of Henning Mankell but this is neggae, not a bleak series of crime novels set in rural Sweden. So whilst Agnetha is depressing us Frida tries to lighten the mood with her over earnest spoken word refrains which gives the whole thing the sense of a French and Saunders sketch. I’ve been saving my ire for the tour de force of the track, what does every sceggae banger need? A budget Dr Alban mumbling shit about meatballs and flat pack furniture, seriously mate do one, there’s no room for that carry on in the Hot 90.
Overall this has put me in the same mood as this scene in Silence of the Lambs, conflicted and confused (just been busted freeze framing that at work, promotion is on the cards) as they’ve covered a reggae song but in my opinion it’s their least neggae style effort.
Score: Don’t turn around just keep going, you’re confusing me 4/10


Yazz & Aswad – How Long

(video couldn’t be embedded – you can view here)
Release Date: July 93
Chart Position: 31

The Neggae scene is much like the dogging scene, you have to take the rough with the smooth and for every perfect orgasmic release, you have to take a few pre-cum stains on the windscreen along the way. Unfortunately this week’s single fits into the windscreen blemish category.  I haven’t heard this before but had my fingers crossed it wouldn’t be a cover of the Paul Carrack inspired Ace classic,  as soon as it started my heart sunk.
It’s more coffee table eggae, cynically manufactured neggae production with the vocals from a nostalgic, sentimental classic. I know Aswad paid their dues and all that, but this is them cashing in, and it’s a bland, insipid cash in at that. The vocals are decent, they can both sing but you can say that about a third of the X Factor contestants. I just can’t get any enthusiasm for this, maybe it’s S.A.D.S. or maybe it’s just the fact this is the neggae equivalent of being served up bread, rice and pasta as a meal, well boring mon.
Score: 3/10 – How long? 3 minutes and 56 seconds unfortunately.

I listened to this once and got lost halfway through as it fumbled around with a cigar lounge beat and an equally bad Yazz to go along with Aswad. Second time round I just couldn’t do it, turned it off and put on Shabba followed by some Jonny Gill acoustic sessions.
Yazz has a bit of Dawn Penn about her voice and that does my head in a little. Don’t get me wrong, I like Aswad but this is a shocker. It gets put into the Rick Astley postbox; ’nuff said about that.
Let’s move on to next week shall we and get into some Bitty McLean!
Score: 2/10 and already erased from my memory banks

So Yazz, famed for her ‘Only Way Is Up’ smash hit and other Dance, Funk and Christian influenced offerings teams up with Aswad. A partnership that initially I found strange until I did a bit more digging and it all started to make more sense. For her this was probably quite natural as it was going back to her father’s roots on the island. Aswad were involved with numerous other artists and did not seem too picky on who they managed to get into a studio with. But probably more relevant was the fact they were all part of the socialist elite and attended Holland Park School. If it was anything like my school, I can imagine the Aswad trio lining up single file every now and again, 50p in hand on the promise of a light fingering and a touch of boob behind the music hut at lunchtime. Not so often that it was considered weird but just enough to fuel a healthy little drug interest for her. Once the transaction was completed maybe the small talk took them to a place where they were all collaborating in the studio one day? Well I am actually glad they did.
I like this tune, it’s not a belter by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a fine offering that did nothing to harm either of their careers. In fact probably furthered their careers somewhat to the extent that Yazz no longer needed those 50ps and the Aswad boys could afford something a little more professional up town. The R&B influence helps the track along and gives it an edge over some of the other maybe more purist neggae tracks around at the time.
Just one suggestion from my side; maybe they called have called themselves Yazzwad? Might have offered a nice marketing angle?
Score: On balance I think a 6/10 is plenty from me on this one this week

I’ve a soft spot for this record for all the right reasons. OK, so it’s no Murder She Wrote or It’s Raining it’s Raining (both still to come), but it is a worthy addition to the Neggae canon. Firstly, if you glance down the Neggae Hot 90 you’ll see that this is the only real romantic duet on there. A lot of bromance, some standard Shabba style willy-waving, some novelty records, a few cash-ins, loads of covers, the odd gem, but no man-and-his-lady duets.
Another reason it’s great is that (to my ears) it touches on Lover’s Rock, that marvellous, overlooked strand of UK reggae from the late Sevs. The skittish electronic drums and digital bass produce a clean yet forceful sound that is very much a modernised version of its UK antecedent.
Aswad were of course no strangers to this. Like UB40, they were a FANTASTIC UK reggae outfit in the early 80s, and were renowned for the high quality variety of reggae they produced. Along with horn-heavy, ominous, Wailers style roots such as Warrior Charge, they also turned out lighter, romantic efforts such as 1982’s I Need you Love. I cannot stress how good this band were; and unlike UB40’s shocker from a few weeks earlier they come out of the Neggae era with their reputations intact.
Throw in Yazz to the mix and you’ve got a great little love song, plain and simple. Yasmin Evans soars gracefully over this record yet treats it with the respect it deserves. Some of her vocal flourishes are Whitneyesque; it’s a wonder she didn’t go on to greater things. Park alongside LSK in the file marked great crimes of British pop music. She sh*ts all over Annie Lennox that’s for sure.
There are a few criticisms. I think the song is a little over-produced, the riddim gets muted in the wash of synths. The instrumental break is a little meh. The great Lovers Rock of 77-83 has a stark, haunting quality to it that heightens the often melancholy melody. Drums are usually dubby, high in the mix and LIVE, so you can’t help but get your swerve on to it. Check out Carrol Thomson’s I’m so Sorry for an example. I wish ‘Yazzwad’ had gone all out on this one. It probably wouldn’t have charted, but man it would have sounded great.
Score: 7/10

At last. Our first entry from the London Based 80’s Reggae Juggernaut that is Aswad. Although a somewhat tepid entry into the Neggae era, better entries would follow from Brinsley Forde, Angus Gaye and Tony Robinson so I’m glad they’ve finally dipped a toe. The song itself is another Neggae cover. In my opinion, much like in the vein of UB40’s “I cant help falling in love with you“, its a brave call and a big ask to top the 1974 original from Ace. Does it go one better? Not for me it doesn’t.
The inclusion of Holland Park School chum and one hit wonder Yazz is a nice touch and offers light and shade in vocal variation. The Neggae feel is there, subtle island drums and off beat guitar riffs. However, when slowing a song down and Neggaefying, you have to produce something spectacular to keep the listener interested. By the time this one gets to the bridge a weird pan pipe kicks in. Reminds of the Patagonian who used to stand outside Woking Peacocks centre dressed in a wolf skin blowing his little lungs out to a Bontempi backing track. It got me thinking. I always thought he should team up with Michael the Bongo Man and Willie Nelson War Veteran to form some sort of Woking odd ball super group. Such a waste of raw street talent. They could have had Janice ( Michael’s stern faced wife/ minder) on crowd control, or perhaps she could act as some sort of “Bez” type dancer. Doing Parkour over benches and the war monument in the town square to keep the hoards of avid fans amused on a rain soaked Saturday afternoon. Sadly that’s where my interest in this song stopped. Even as covers go, its not the best in my opinion. Like Rod the Mod Stewart’s MOR 80’s “Sax Rawk” version and Barbara Mandrell’s 
Country offering before it, I think it falls down. If you want the best out of a bad bunch, Give Lipps Inc’s disco ditty a spin. Not quite Ace, but offers something different.
Score: How long? Too long and too slow. But an improvement on last week. 5 out of 10.