With a name taken from the Arabic for 'black', Aswad's original line-up (ex-child actor, vocal and guitarist Brinsley Forde, drummer Angus 'Drummie' Zeb, guitarist Donald Benjamin, keyboardist Courtney Hemmings and bassist Ras George Levi Oban) was snapped up by Island, the first high-profile deal for a British Reggae group.

Their debut Aswad (1976) established their popularity, and second album Hulet (1980) was recorded by the streamlined line-up of Forde, Drummie and new guitarist Tony Gad. Further Reggae hits- 1982's New Chapter and Not Satisfied, Live And Direct (1983), Rebel Souls (1984) and To The Top (1986)- paved the way for 1988's Pop crossover Distant Thunder and UK No. 1 'Don't Turn Around'. However, apart from 1994's UK No. 5 'Shine', later releases succeeded only in the Reggae charts.

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