More great Sly & Robbie songs
The Ultimate Guide to Great Reggae - The complete story of Reggae told through its greatest songs, famous and forgotten - Michael Garnice
Michael Garnice [+]
When Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, new drummer and bassist on the scene, began to work as a team around 1974, no one, not even they, could have imagined the incredible success they would have. They would become the biggest backing band in reggae history, playing on thousands of records by a myriad of artists. They would become bandleaders, producers, dub-masters and label owners. They would help launch Peter Tosh’s international solo career. They would push the boundaries of reggae as members of Black Uhuru, recording cutting-edge reggae, touring and performing for fans around the world. Amassing an unprecedented résumé for reggae musicians, they would work with such non-reggae stars as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Ian Dury, Grace Jones, Joan Armatrading, Gilberto Gil, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Cindy Lauper, Ben Harper, Joe Cocker, Simply Red, Carly Simon, Tricky, Doug E. Fresh, Michael Franti, No Doubt, Carlos Santana, Sinéad O’Connor and others. No major talent in reggae goes without the accolade of a nickname, and they would be called “the riddim twins” or “Drumbar and Basspeare”. They would enjoy the additional accolade of being the only reggae rhythm section ever to be sung about in a chart-topping American single. In an unusual tribute, ‘Genius Of Love’, a 1981 single by the Talking Heads spin-off group Tom Tom Club, contained a couplet that not only name-checks Bob Marley, but credits Sly & Robbie with expanding the sound of reggae. It’s even followed by an imitation of Sly’s one-handed snare rolls. All in all, not bad for a couple of kids from Kingston.