MIDNIGHT RAVER is currently working on a feature about Sly and Robbie, who are responsible for five Grammy-worthy albums in 2013.  They were nominated for their album SLY AND ROBBIE & THE JAM MASTERS NEW LEGEND.  However, I feel that the albums BITTY MCLEAN:  THE TAXI SESSIONS and STEPPER TAKES THE TAXI are two of the better albums I’ve heard in several years.  I have placed links to purchase these albums in the sidebar.

As part of this planned multi-media feature, Dermot Hussey will interview Sly Dunbar and I have interviewed Robbie Shakespeare, Guillaume “Stepper” Briard, and my friend and producer Guillaume Bougard.  We are attempting to get Bitty McLean as well.  I’m shooting for this feature to be the very first post of 2014!

So here are ten things you might not know about the ‘RIDDIM TWINS:’

1.  Sly Dunbar’s earliest influence as a drummer was Skatalites drummer Lloyd Nibbs.
2.  Sly Dunbar received his first drum kit while working for the Tit Tat Club’s House Band Skin, Flesh and Bones.
3.  The first song Sly did was at 15 years old; a song called “Night Doctor” for Ansel Collins. It came out as ‘The Upsetters,’ but it was really produced by Anthony Collins. The second song he did was a million-plus seller, Dave and Ansel Collins’ “Double Barrell.”
4.  These “Rhythm Killers” first met when Sly was 20 and Robbie was 19.  Sly was playing at the Tit Tat Club and Robbie at Evil People.  Both clubs were walking distance apart on Red Hills Road in Kingston.
5.  Their first collaboration was under the name “The Aggrovators.”  They later formed the riddim section of Channel One’s session group “The Revolutionaries.”
6.  Their first hit single as a duo was “Soon Forward.”  With the riddim laid down, the duo asked a friend named Gregory Isaacs to come to the studio and sing over it.  The tune was a keeper, spending eight weeks on top of the JA music charts.
7.  Sly Dunbar played drums on Bob Marley’s “Punky Reggae Party” which was produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry.  He also played drums on Junior Murvins “Police and Thieves.”
8.  Sly & Robbie crafted the grooves on Black Uhuru’s 1984 album titled ANTHEM.  The album was the first reggae album ever to win a Grammy.
9.  As Black Uhuru, they were nominated for the Grammy once again in 1986 for the Jim Fox-engineered BRUTAL DUB, however, the Grammy committee snatched away the nomination when they learned that dub was a music without lyrics!
10.  The Sly & Robbie “sound” first gelled on the Mighty Diamonds RIGHT TIME album.  The album was so successful that it opened many doors for the duo, now a verifiable riddim section.

Photo:  Lee Jaffe
Photo: Lee Jaffe

I can easily say that my favorite album featuring Sly & Robbie is Dennis Brown’s VISIONS.  Just listen to Sly on the opening track.  May actually be my favorite reggae drum track ever.  Simply on another planet!

“Deliverance Will Come”