Tag Archives: Sly & Robbie

New studio album from Sly & Robbie

SLY-ROBBIE-Album-Reggae-ConnectionLegendary Grammy-winning production duo Sly & Robbie rally in artists from Japan, Jamaica and the U.S. for their new album Reggae Connection. With nine Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins the esteemed Jamaican drum and bass duo is no strangers to success and their music has changed the reggae landscape several times during the past 30 years.

Reggae Connection is the follow up release to their 2013 Grammy-nominated reggae album New Legend – Jamaica 50th Edition. This new ten track compilation features an eclectic group of musicians over Sly & Robbie’s riddims. The album’s first single Gangsta Luv is sung by the up-and-coming all girl Jamaican group KGN21 with dancehall legend Mr. Vegas thrown in the mix.

The set also features a number of cover versions, including a reggae rendition of Maroon 5’s One More Night from Jamaican songstress Nioma and a dancehall-flavored version of The Wonder Girls’ Nobody.

In addition to singers from their native country, Sly & Robbie have invited multiple vocalists from around the globe. Hawaiian roots-reggae singer Irie Love lends her emotive vocals to So In Love while with no less than four Japanese singers are featured on the album.

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Easy to fall in love with Bitty McLean

bittymclean-taxisessions-coverUK singer Bitty McLean has been around for some time now. He dropped his debut album in 1994, but was then away from the limelight for about seven years.

In 2006 a career-changer came about. That’s when he met veteran riddim section and production duo Sly and Robbie. Three years later they put out the excellent Movin’ On set and now it’s time for yet another first-rate effort.

The Taxi Sessions isn’t however a new Movin’ On. This ten track album – eight on the LP – is built on loops from familiar Sly and Robbie riddims from the early to mid 80s complete with freshly recorded horn overdubs.

It’s a mix of cultural and lovers themes and Bitty McLean’s honey-drenched voice suits the easy-going and bouncy riddims perfectly. This is harmonious and beautifully arranged reggae with lots of soul and charm.

The initial run of the LP and CD is already sold out. It will be available on high resolution audiophile online stores like Qobuz and HDTracks before it hits the regular digital platforms. So go and grab a copy while you can.

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A fabulous instrumental set from Stepper

61TpGzt4FRL._SL500_AA280_French saxophone player Guillaume Briard, aka Stepper, has worked with a veritable who’s who in the Jamaican music industry. His main business today is however being an official member of acclaimed Jamaican riddim duo Sly & Robbie’s band the Taxi Gang.

The riddim twins have now opened their music vaults, vaults jam-packed with immortal riddims and backing tracks, for him to record over for his own debut album Stepper Takes the Taxi, a set also including a number of brand new riddims.

Stepper has chosen his riddims with gentle care. They’re bubbling, bouncy and lively and exquisitely mixed by French mixing engineer Fabwise. Stepper blows his saxophone tenderly and creates beautiful melodies over the sometimes haunting backing tracks.

There are too few instrumental albums released these days, which makes this effort a welcome addition to a sometimes overlooked and forgotten part of reggae music.

Stepper Takes the Taxi is now available on digital platforms and will also be made available on CD.

Ps. Don’t miss the hidden dub cut on the last track.

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Reggae Grammy nominees announced

grammyIn the past weeks a list of entries to the Grammy Award for best reggae album has circulated. The list contained a total of 53 entries and had its fair bit of highs and lows. Yesterday the actual nominees were announced and unfortunately only one of five nominees is a real gem.

The total list of 53 entries contained several great albums, for example Busy Signal’s Reggae Music Again, Courtney John’s From Letters To Words, I Octane’s Crying to the Nation, Konshens’ Mental Maintenance, Singing Melody’s They Call Me Mr. Melody and Jimmy Cliff’s Rebirth. The only one that made to the final round was Rebirth.

But there is good news. Rebirth is by far the strongest nominee. It’s accompanied by The Original Wailers’ Miracle, Sean Paul’s Tomahawk Technique, Sly & Robbie & The Ram Masters’ New Legend and Toots Hibbert’s Unplugged At Strawberry Hill.

Rebirth is Jimmy Cliff’s strongest album since his heydays in the 60’s and 70’s and if there’s any justice in the world and the jury knows anything about reggae music; it will be a landslide victory for Jimmy Cliff.

The winners of the 55th Grammy Award will be presented on February 10, 2013.

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Sly & Robbie free your mind

Jamaican duo Sly & Robbie is most likely the world’s best know riddim section and have probably played on more records and sessions than most other notable outfits like Mafia & Fluxy or the Barrett brothers.

And they have a stunning catalogue that spans over four decades, including working with world renowned artists such as Grace Jones, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger as well as most well-known reggae artists from the 70’s up until today.

Their first album under their own name in years is the recently released dub album called Blackwood Dub, recorded in Jamaica at the Harry J studio with notable veteran musicians Sticky Thompson and Mikey Chung.

The ten tracks are both refurbished vintage riddims as well as more contemporary ones. And all bear the Sly & Robbie trademark – bouncy, driving bass lines along with pounding, tight drumming complemented with exercises in studio wizardry.

The sound is rich, full and heavy throughout. Since there are no traces of vocals to be found it can be a bit dry though.

But, Blackwood Dub is nevertheless a fascinating cavernous and vibrating journey that will set your mind free.

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From Waterhouse to the World – A Michael Rose Special

Michael “Mykal” Rose is one of the most consistent performers in reggae music. His career begun already in the mid 70’s and since then he has managed to put out great music for producers around the globe. His recordings in the 21st century us just as good as the ones he did in the 70’s.

In my opinion his tunes for producer Ryan Moore is among the best he has done, and well in line with his body of work produced by Prince Jammy or Sly & Robbie.

From Waterhouse to the World is a mix based solely on Michael Rose’s vast catalogue. It is solo vocals, duets, dub versions and instrumentals spanning over four decades. The mix is roughly chronological and starts off with some obscure Michael Rose vocals accompanied by their dub versions.

Then it is time for a few cuts from Black Uhuru when Michael Rose was handling the lead vocal duties. After that it is back to his solo performances.

As usual, From Waterhouse to the World is a continuous mix with no full tracks and some added sound effects. If you like what you hear, please support Michael Rose, producers and the labels and buy the tunes. All of them are easily available on mp3 and CD. A bunch of them easy to find on vinyl.

Listen and download via the player below. You can also head over to Soundcloud for more mixes. Turn it up and enjoy the music!

Artist – song title

1. Michael Rose – We Shall Overcome
2. The Kay – Overcome
3. Michael Rose – Observe Life
4. The Upsetter – Observing Dub
5. Black Uhuru – I Love King Selassie ( original version)
6. Prince Jammy – His Imperial Majesty
7. Black Uhuru – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
8. Sly & Robbie – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner version
9. Black Uhuru – Youth of Eglington
10. Black Uhuru – Youth
11. Michael Rose – Visit Them
12. Sly & Robbie – Visit Them Dub
13. Michael Rose – Friday
14. Michael Rose – Friday (horns mix)
15. Michael Rose – Burial
16. Michael Rose – Funeral Dub
17. Michael Rose – Freedom
18. Michael Rose – Freedom Dub
19. Michael Rose – No Burial
20. Michael Rose – Dub Burial
21. Michael Rose – No Hypocrites
22. Basque Dub Foundation – Midnight Organ
23. Basque Dub Foundation & Dub Terror – Dubbing Tonight
24. Michael Rose – Mr. Collie (Collieangel remix)
25. Michael Rose – Catch Up di Fire
26. Michael Rose & Hi-Kee – Catch Up di Fire
27. Michael Rose – Shoot Out
28. Michael Rose & Damian Marley – Shoot Out (remix)

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The Tamlins are born again

You can’t say that the reggae world has been spoiled with sweet harmony vocal trios the last twenty years or so. They had their heydays in the 60’s and 70’s and since the glory days of Culture, Mighty Diamonds and Gladiators nearly no new groups have emerged.

That’s why it’s such a blessing to listen to Re-Birth, the new album from Derrick Lara, Carlton Smith and Sylvanus “Junior” Moore, better known as The Tamlins.

This outfit began recording in the mid 70’s and have had some well-known tunes, mainly covers such as Smiling Faces and the wicked Sly & Robbie production Baltimore.

Sly & Robbie are also present on Re-Birth. Not in persons, but in production style. Alborosie and Clifton “Specialist” Dillon have managed to create a sound that’s very reminiscent of early 80’s Sly & Robbie. The production is bubbling, organic and vital. It’s fun to listen to.

Their voices and harmonies are as good as in their prime. Just listen to the Send Them Come, on the Full Up riddim, or the bouncy Delano Stewart cover Tell Me Baby.

Included are also two duets, a reworking of Baltimore with Alborosie himself, and the pleading Who Are Leading Us, with an – for me – unknown singer called Spiritual. Both work really well since Alborosie’s and Spiritual’s rugged voices contrasts nicely to the beautiful harmonies.

The Tamlins albums and singles from the 70’s are today quite hard to find. This great new set shows that they’re in desperate need of a reissue program or anthology.

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Reggae Grammy is a joke

Joke of the year was presented last week when the nominees for best reggae album were made official.

The reggae category was introduced in 1984 and the first winner was Anthem from Black Uhuru. Since then, several siblings in the Marley family have been awarded. Stephen Marley two times for his mediocre Mind Control (2009, 2007) and Damian Marley for his Welcome to Jamrock (2005) and Halfway Tree (2001). Ziggy Marley has also been awarded several times, most recently with Love is My Religion released in 2006.

That’s why I thought Distant Relatives from Nas & Damian Marley was a given nominee. But no.

Instead, this year’s list consists of six albums by a strange bunch, namely Lee Perry, Sly & Robbie (with two albums), Andrew Tosh, the late Gregory Isaacs and the imprisoned Buju Banton.

Weirdest on the list is Lee Perry and his Revelation set. This is a very poor album and I guess the jury just wants to give him some kind of lifetime achievement award.

I understand if the jury doesn’t find and appreciate gems such as Judgement Time by Chezidek or United States of Africa by Luciano. But, it missed out on decent albums from very well-known artists such as Busy Signal and Gyptian.

With Hold You, Gyptian scored one of the biggest reggae hits in recent years, and it’s a mystery why his album wasn’t nominated.

And if the jury wants to premier nostalgia and veterans, they should’ve nominated Clinton Fearon or Earl Zero.

The only great album that has won the Reggae Grammy is Jah is Real (2008) from Burning Spear. The jury needs to scrutinize themselves and come up with some real nominees for next year. Now the reggae world is just laughing at them.

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Versatile riddim duo

The bass and the drums are the key to great reggae music. But in today’s reggae, where computers do much of the work, bass players and drummers are not in demand any more. However, UK-based Mafia & Fluxy keep their flag flying high.

The riddim section is the foundation of reggae music. The bass player and drummer are vital to any recording, but they’re probably unknown to the casual reggae listener.

But if you ask the more dedicated reggae aficionado he or she will probably jabber on about the Barrett brothers, Errol “Flabba” Holt and Style Scott and, of course, Sly and Robbie.

All of these are Jamaican riddim sections. And if you should ask about a European counterpart, most reggae listeners would probably mention Mafia & Fluxy, the only British born riddim section.

The duo – made up by brothers Leroy “Mafia” and David “Fluxy” Heywood – started their career in British reggae outfit The Instigators in the 70’s. Fluxy explains in an e-mail to Reggaemani how it all begun:

− My mother got Mafia an acoustic guitar and he started picking the bass lines of records and said to me “you better start learning the drums”. So I started tapping and put beats on a home made drum kit which was a speaker box, bicycle lamp and a microphone.

It was their uncle who got them into reggae. And it started – as with many reggae musicians – with a sound system.

− My uncle who lived in the house with us had a sound system (Wizard HiFi). We grew up playing that sound listening to ska, rock steady, blue beat and soul music.

The kinship is something Fluxy thinks is one of the success factors behind him and his brother.

− We are brothers by nature so we have a natural bond. Same goes for Carlton and Aston “Family Man” Barrett who were the riddim section behind Bob Marley & The Wailers.

Mafia and Fluxy are a versatile duo. They have just produced UK lovers rock singer Adele Harley’s debut, and have also laid down riddims for Gussie P and Irie Ites, productions that have a more hardcore reggae feeling to them.

It’s certainly impressive to have that kind of musical range. When asked what a great riddim section needs, Fluxy gives a short and simple answer.

− Creativity, feel and groove.

It also seems like these brothers want to increase their versatility even more. On top of Fluxy’s list of people to work with are U.S RnB producers.

− We would like to work with any of the top American RnB producers. They take their elements from reggae and we would love to vibe with them and bounce ideas together.

However, that may not be just yet. In December they are following Luciano on tour and Fluxy’s main mission for the future is very clear.

− To keep reggae music alive!

A FEW FAST ONES TO FLUXY

Favourite artist?
Beres Hammond

Favourite label?
Penthouse

Favourite album?
Strange Things (Irie Ites)

Favourite tune?
Down the Line with Gregory Isaacs

Favourite producer?
Donovan Germain/Dean Fraser/Lloyd Campbell

Favourite riddim?
Chi Chi Bud

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Winston Jarrett tillbaka till rötterna

Winston Jarrett har en karriär längre än många andra artister. Även om han varit med sedan 60-talet har han dock inte släppt särskilt många plattor.

Hans storhetstid kan delas in i två faser. Under ett par år på 60-talet var han med i The Flames som spelade tillsammans med Alton Ellis på hitlåtar som Rocksteady, Dance Crasher och Cry Tough.

Nästa fas var på 70-talet som solosångare. Det var då han var som bäst och hördes mest. Plattor som Man of the Ghetto, Wise Man och Ranking Ghetto Style bör finnas i varje roots-konnässörs skivsamling. Lyckas man inte lägga vantarna på de guldklimparna funkar samlingarna Rise Up och Survival is the Game som hedervärda substitut.

Winston Jarretts senaste platta bär den märkliga titeln Bushwackers Gangbangers och är den första sedan den Jah Shaka-producerade Children of the Ghetto från 2006. Det var en hyfsad platta av klassiskt Jah Shaka-snitt.

Bushwackers Gangbangers har ett helt annat sound. Till skillnad från Children of the Ghetto är nya plattan huvudsakligen inspelad med live-instrument, bland annat tillsammans med Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespear och Earl ”Chinna” Smith.

Winston Jarretts röst låter fortfarande som på glansdagarna och lirar bra med den varma ljudbilden med tydliga influenser från 70-talsroots. Lyssna exempelvis på titelspåret eller Lucy Underwood. Båda följs av dubversioner som hade tjänat på mer kreativitet. Nu blir det nästan som instrumentalversioner.

Plattan har hela 19 låtar, varav tre är bonusspår inspelade på 70-talet och lider av kraftigt dåligt ljud, vilket också är ett problem på några andra låtar, exempelvis Montpellier Collie och Work for Your Money. Hade man sorterat bort de fem låtarna hade plattan varit en bättre helhetsupplevelse.

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