It is unnecessary to do an introduction to Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. This duo is a “giant” who was involved a lot in the growth of the Jamaican music scene. They have shared hundreds of thousands of their “rhythm sections” to the world. It’s not just Jamaican musicians who want to have musical touch from Sly & Robbie to enrich their music, lots of world’s leading musicians queuing to work with this duo. From the likes of Bob Dylan to Madonna, from Paul McCartney to The Rolling Stones. From Simply Red to No Doubt. They also did a long list of a history beckoning kind of work, alongside the likes of Herbie Hancock to Fela Kuti.
“Riddim Twins”, “The Rhythm Guru” and many other names attached to them as one of the world’s recognitions to their magical touch in music. Although it is not yet known how the duo will travel in the future after the death of Robbie Shakespeare in December last year, they have laid a new foundation in music. Always bring something fresh, something that becomes a pathway to follow by many musicians after them.
Jamaica’s treasures like ska, reggae, rocksteady and dub music can easily sink into various genres of music through the taste of Sly & Robbie. From the charts in many parts of the world, the grammy and being a reason for many youth to be a musician, The groove and the grind of Lowell Fillmore Dunbar (Sly) and Robert Warren Dale Shakespeare (Robbie) is indeed one of the histories of this century!
Here are our Sly & Robbie’s tracks for this issue:
Lively Up Yourself is a tribute from this duo to the “prophet” who played it with Jamaican Jazz legends Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin. First released by Tabou1 in 2011. And re-released in digital format in 2021.
Early in their career Sly & Robbie had been regular backup musicians for Peter Tosh on "Words, sound & power" group. In our interview session with Sly, he told us about their musical interaction with Peter Tosh. We understand that the “Stepping Razor” also admires this duo.
One of the masterpieces from Roland Alphonso (The Skatalites) is his interpretation of the work of Mongo Santamaria with the same title. Sly & Robbie brings a new dimension to this dance-filled song, a ska in the eyes of the Riddim Twins!
One proof that this duo has multi music languages is they’re so easy to dive into various kinds of music vibes. Their magical touch in this song does bring a mantra to dance for the people, including the children.
Together with Neville Hinds (Byron Lee And The Dragonaires), Sly & Robbie bring dancehall vibrations to the famous song by Lalo Schiffrin. This famous theme song which comes in the signature 5/4 is a unique example of Sly & Robbie's magical invitation to dance.
This is another one of the many examples of Sly & Robbie's musical infusion that is so sought after by many world musicians. Jokerman is one of the duo's style for the work of the folk music living legend, Bob Dylan.
The “Queen” engaged Sly & Robbie for a remix compilation for Give It 2 Me. Together with world-class famous remixers, Madonna includes 2 remixes from the riddim twins in this album.
Sly & Robbie did have an indirect relationship with Rolling Stones Records, music Imprint owned by The Rolling Stones when they were part of the "Words, sound & power" band for Peter Tosh, one of the roster in this imprint. Sly & Robbie were then directly involved in the work of The Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger. In She's The Boss, traces of the duo's musical intelligence can be seen, one of which is through this song.
In our opinion, one of the “masterpieces” of this duo is in this “Language Barrier” album. Together with Manu Dibango, Afrika Bambaataa, Bernie Worrell, Bill Laswell and Bob Dylan, this duo brings a cross-dimensional taste of Jamaica in music, one of the masterpieces of the world-class rhythm giant.
Gregory Isaacs the “Cool Ruler” does have its own part in the history of Sly & Robbie. They once released a tribute to him on the album "Sly & Robbie Present: Gregory Isaacs In Dub." Mick Hucknall, the frontman of Simply Red also once enjoyed the mighty taste of this duo.
They did a cover version of The Cool Ruler’s song. Simply classic!
One part of the history of the 2nd wave of Ska from England is the London band, Madness. Their lead singer, Suggs, has a couple of solo albums. One of them is “4 AM.” In this album, he invites Sly & Robbie as the producers, together they turn Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecilia into a more powerful dancehall anthem.
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