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Album Review

Like all of the Island releases in the "an introduction to" series covering artists that actually did some-to-much non-Island recording, this isn't a complete career survey, but an extraction of highlights from the artist's Island catalog. In Sly & Robbie's case, that means 14 tracks from the late '70s to the mid-'80s, only three of which are actually billed to Sly & Robbie (though another is billed to Sly Dunbar as a soloist). For this rhythm section were and are more known as session musicians and a production team, and this also features ten Sly & Robbie productions of other artists, including tracks by reggae stars Black Uhuru, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Junior Delgado, the Mighty Diamonds, and Sugar Minott, as well as lesser-known reggae singers Jimmy Riley, the Rolands, the Tamlins, and the Wailing Souls. As a consequence, this doesn't really have the kind of unified sound expected of single-artist compilations, though roughly speaking a solid, thick bass sound, crunching percussion, and percolating electronics are constant. Because a bunch of big names are here and because Sly & Robbie were top-notch producers, this does serve as a reasonable sampler of reggae in general in the first half of the 1980s, particularly on the best material, like Dennis Brown's "Hold on to What You Got" and the Wailing Souls' "Sweet Sugar Plum Plum." Less kindly, it also charts the beginning of reggae's move from its roots sound of the 1970s into a slicker, more programmed vibe, and the three Sly & Robbie tracks veer closer to disco and urban contemporary dance-pop than to the reggae that gave them their foundation.


Genre: Reggae

Theirs is the ultimate musical marriage, a partnership that, once formed, re-etched the very landscape of not just Jamaican music, but the entire world's. Such hyperbole is oftentimes rolled out by publicity machines whenever two musical talents come together, but in the case of drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, it really was an earth-shattering union. Their rhythms have been the driving force behind innumerable songs -- one statistician estimated that together they've played on...
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Make 'Em Move/Taxi Style - an Introduction To, Sly & Robbie
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