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Monday, Feb 13 2012 | 10:56 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

Sly & RobbieFebruary 2012 sees the light for “Blackwood Dub” – Sly & Robbie’s first flawless Dub Album in years. The longplay release was realised with longtime companion musicians including Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung (Guitar) and Uziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson (Percussion) and others. The album was recorded in 2011 at the legendary Harry J Studio (in example the first Bob Marley & The Wailers albums for Island Records “Catch A Fire”, “Burnin” and as well “Natty Dread” have been recorded there) in coordination with the producer talent of Alberto ‘Burur’ Blackwood & Gilroy ‘Rolex’ Stewart.

Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare are by far the worldwide most known and most successful Jamaican musicians – in addition to countlless essential recordings for local artists and producers that made history for real in reggae music! The duo was and still is also engaged as drummer and bass session player for celebrities of the international rock/pop circuit – but never failed to support new young talent coming from the ghettos of Kingston or the Jamaican countryside.

Sly Dunbar, then drumming for Skin Flesh and Bones, and Robbie, playing bass with the Aggrovators, discovered they had the same ideas about music in general (both are huge fans of Motown, Stax Records, the Philly Sound, and Country music, in addition to Jamaican legendary labels Studio One and Treasure Isle), and Reggae production in particular. They first worked together with The Revolutionaries for the newly created Channel One studio and label, operated by the Hoo Kim brothers.

According to The Independent, their breakthrough album was The Mighty Diamonds’ 1976 release Right Time, which helped to establish them as the “masters of groove and propulsion.” The drum beat on the title song was particularly tricky; in 2001 Dunbar recalled, “When that tune first come out, because of that double tap on the rim nobody believe it was me on the drums, they thought it was some sort of sound effect we was using. Then when it go to number 1 and stay there, everybody started trying for that style and it soon become established.”

The duo changed the face of reggae several times: in 1976, they introduced a harder beat called “Rockers”, which quickly replaced the then prevalent “One drop” style, then introduced the “rub a dub” sound in the early 1980s. Sly and Robbie were important in developing the trend towards computer assisted music and programming in the mid 1980s. Chris Blackwell made them the core of the Compass Point All Stars, the Nassau (Bahamas) recording band based at Compass Point Studios that was to produce classic records for Grace Jones, Joe Cocker and Gwen Guthrie among many others. They had a number 12 hit on the UK Singles Chart in 1987 with “Boops (Here to Go)” which Robbie Williams later sampled for his single Rudebox.

In the early 1990s they introduced a novel sound with the hits “Bam Bam” and “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus & Pliers. Chaka Demus’ rough DJ vocals were matched with Pliers’ sweet, melodic, soul-influenced singing; this unusual vocal pairing was championed by Sly and Robbie. This formula has since been used with great success by the likes of Shaggy (who teamed up with singers Rayvon or Rik Rok), Shabba Ranks, Maxi Priest and others. This predates and may have influenced the recent trend in some rap music where a song’s “hook” or chorus is sung by a guest, while the verses are rapped.

In the “Bam Bam” style, Sly introduced Indian tabla sounds in his drum beats, while Robbie altogether stopped playing bass on this particular project.

Sly & Robbie continued to innovate during the 1990s and early 2000s, fusing Dancehall and Latin music sounds (La Trenggae) or Dancehall and hip hop/R&B (their 2004 Big Up riddim). They had a second UK top 40 hit in 1997, with the collaboration with Simply Red on a cover of Gregory Isaacs’ “Night Nurse”, reaching number 13. In 1999, their “Strip to the Bone” album paired them with electro producer Howie B, and together they explored new dub territories. Their 1999 single “Superthruster” from this album became a mainstream hit by being played on MTV frequently. Reason for this was undoubtedly not only the pulsing beat but the high quality animated video in sinister Anime style. It showed Sly and Robbie in battlesuits chasing a Harlequin through a technological complex. As the video progresses, the harlequin turns out to be a marionette directed by the real villain. The early scene involving the Harlequin marionette bears at least a passing resemblance to Sven Väth’s 1994 animated cult-video “Harlequin”. “Superthruster” was released on vinyl and as a DVD single, its February 9, 1999 release date making it one of or even the first DVD single ever to go on sale.

In 2003 they compiled and mixed a DJ mix album, Late Night Tales: Sly & Robbie, as part of the Late Night Tales series for Azuli Records.

Far from restricting themselves to the Jamaican scene, (in which they have played for virtually every prominent Jamaican musical artist from Beenie Man to Sean Paul to Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Ini Kamoze and others), they have played with and produced artists such as Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Joan Armatrading, Gilberto Gil, Joe Cocker, Matisyahu, Serge Gainsbourg, Simply Red, Michael Franti, Sting, Khaled, Mey Vidal, Tricky, Doug E. Fresh, Carlos Santana, Sinéad O’Connor, and others.

They have produced No Doubt’s hits “Hey Baby” and “Underneath It All”. They also produced some tracks off Suggs first album The Lone Ranger including the hit version of “Cecilia” featuring Louchie Lou & Michie One which sold over 500,000 copies in the UK alone.

After 30 years together, they still tour and record relentlessly. In early 2005, they toured with Tony Rebel and Half Pint. During the Summer of 2005, they toured Europe and the UK with Bunny Rugs, lead singer for Third World. During the Fall of 2005 they were on the road with Sinéad O’Connor in August 2006, they appeared with Don Carlos at the Reggae on the River festival, and in August 2007 they performed on a tour of the Western United States and Canada along with Dancehall-soul singer and actress Cherine Anderson, including headlining Reggae Rising in Humboldt County and The Hollywood Bowl.

They have produced several new Jamaican artists for their Taxi label, including Kibaki, Mynimoo and Zennlocc, as well as confirmed superstars such as Elephant Man and Buju Banton, for whom they re-used their 1982 instrumental song “Unmetered Taxi”. In 2006, they recorded with their original group, the Revolutionaries, to produce Horace Andy’s new album “Livin’ it up” and produced several hits for Cherine Anderson. In the 2007, they collaborated with the Italian rapper Jovanotti on the album Safari, they also produced tracks for former Beatle Paul McCartney and Britney Spears. In 2008, Sly and Robbie collaborated with the Ecuadorian singer-songwriter Cecilia Villar Eljuri, on her song “El Aire”. Sung in Spanish, the song quickly charted on Worldbeat and Latin Alternative radio.

In 2009, Movin’ On, the new album by Bitty McLean, which they produced with Bitty and their longtime friend and associate Guillaume Bougard, came out and was immediately acclaimed as the best reggae album of the year. They toured Japan, Morocco (Mawazine festival) and Europe with Bitty to showcase the album.

Sly & Robbie produced four songs on Cherine Anderson’s EP “The Introduction-Dubstyle”. The second single “Shine On Jamaica”, which was produced by the duo peaked at # 1 for four weeks on both the South Florida Reggae charts as well as the WAVS 1170 Reggae Charts.

For more information check here: www.myspace.com/slyandrobbie

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