Aswad

Not Satisfied

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Much to the shock of all involved, New Chapter did not prove to be the breakout album everyone assumed it would be. Aswad returned to the studio chastened, but not bowed. Accompanying them were most of the sessionmen who had contributed to New Chapter, along with producer Michael Campbell (aka Mikey Dread). The result was a natural continuation of their sound, but insidiously, Not Satisfied would sound lighter than their last effort, at least superficially. Songs like "Pass the Cup" and "Down the Line," in particular, were bright and breezy numbers, while "No More Living a Lie" was dance-inflected with a decidedly pop edge. "I Need Your Love," "Reality," and "Your Recipe" all waved the lovers rock banner; "African Children (Part Two)" was a lovely ballad filled with acoustic guitars; and "Girl's Got to Know" was filled with lush melody. Even harder numbers, like the jittering title track, were masked in a sweet melody, while "Drum and Bassline" sizzles off into the dancehall before quickly pulling back into a rootsier room. It seemed that Aswad was deliberating dulling their musical edge in order to reach the mainstream. But contrarily, some of their prettiest numbers contained their hardest-hitting lyrics. "Reality" is insistent that "You've got to stand up now and face reality"; "Girl" is adamant about "That girl has got to know that all life's riches cannot be found in vanity"; while the roots reggae "Oh Jah" is filled with suffering. And underpinning all the tracks are the tough rhythms, whose slamming beats are evident even in the lovers rock numbers. While New Chapter had reveled in innovation and hybridization, dense arrangements, and intense electronic effects, Not Satisfied streamlined Aswad's sound. Not as breathtakingly creative, but in honing their style and focus the songs have arguably greater impact. And in reality, the innovation was still continuing, as this reissue makes clear. Included on the set are "Unsatisfied" and the dub of "Oh Jah," both of which were initially pressed onto a 10" single which was included with the first 8,000 copies of the album. The 12" single version of "Pass the Cup" and its flip side dub also feature as bonus tracks. It's on these songs that the band really lets loose. "Unsatisfied," in particular, is extraordinary, a massive slab of sludge that intensifies the original's disquiet, coagulating into pools of melody that are brought to the boil by the crashing beats and ominous keyboard line. Aswad was still capable of shocking creativity, even if commercial success eluded them for the moment.

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