Strictly Drum And Bass ~ The Roots Of Sly & Robbie
Trojan Records
February 18, 2007

Track list
  1. Night Doctor - Upsetters
  2. Double Barrel - Dave & Ansel Collins
  3. Say Me Say - Justin Hinds & The Dominoes
  4. You'll Never Know - Errol Dunkley
  5. Blinded By Love - Slim Smith
  6. Here I Am Baby - Al Brown & Skin Flesh & Bones
  7. Tit For Tat - Skin Flesh & Bones
  8. I've Got To Go On Without You - Al Brown
  9. I'm Falling In Love - Ranchie McLean
  10. Message - Barrington Spence
  11. Wherever I Lay My Hat - Cornell Campbell
  12. I Shall Not Remove - Cornell Campbell
  13. Rock With Me Baby - Johnny Clarke
  14. Move Out Of Babylon Rastaman - Johnny Clarke
  15. Natty Dread Girl - Linval Thompson
  16. Don't You Cut Off Your Dreadlocks - Linval Thompson
  17. You'll Never Find Another Love (Extended Version) - John Holt
  18. Up Park Camp - John Holt
  19. Pope Paul Dead And Gone - Trinity
  20. Freedom Dub - The Revolutionaries
  21. You're No Good (Extended Version) - Ken Boothe & The Aggrovators
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 3/4
Lowell 'Sly 'Dunbar (born 1950) and Robbie Shakespeare (born 1953) aka the Dynamic Duo aka the Riddim Twins have become the back bone of reggae since they emerged as a regular pair in the mid seventies. Until then they individually had developed their skill during live performances with their bands Skin, Flesh & Bones (Sly) and Big Relation (Robbie) and studio sessions for producers such as Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Duke Reid, Winston Riley, Sonia Pottinger, Bunny 'Striker' Lee and Prince Tony Robinson.

Sly and Robbie began playing together regularly in 1975 when the Channel One house band The Revolutionaries was built around the duo. Other regular members included Ossie Hibbert, Ansel Collins, Errol 'Tarzan' Nelson, Radcliffe Bryan, Robbie Lynn, Uziah 'Stickie' Thompson, Tommy McCook, Vin Gordon and Herman Marquis. What became known as their 'Rockers' riddims was mostly based on Studio One classics from the previous decade, made totally modern by the many drumming styles created by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare's complementary basslines.

In 1979 Sly & Robbie joined forces independently with the (re)launch of the Taxi label, which then became their primary focus. Gregory Isaacs' "Soon Forward" was the initial hit for the label, in the early eighties followed by hits from Ini Kamoze, Jimmy Riley, The Tamlins, Sugar Minott and Dennis Brown. However the duo were willing to work for other producers too, the most notable being George Phang, Myrie Lewis & Errol Marshall and Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell. It has been estimated the pair have crafted over 200.000 songs, so it's obvious that there isn't a single great reggae singer that hasn't recorded with Sly and Robbie.

"Strictly Drum And Bass ~ The Roots Of Sly And Robbie" is a well balanced and entertaining collection documenting a batch of seminal numbers featuring Sly and Robbie during their formative years. This showcase follows their development from 1969 up to 1979, starting off with the Upsetters' "Night Doctor", an organ instrumental featuring Ansel Collins'livid organ scales and Sly Dunbar's very pronounced drumming. During his second recording session Sly again worked together with Ansel Collins, laying the riddim for Dave & Ansel Collins' smash hit "Double Barrell". Sly then played a little while with Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, the house band for Treasure Isle. One track he recorded there was the excellent "Say Me Say" by Justin Hinds & The Dominoes.

Next up is Errol Dunkley's "You Never Know", actually recorded during Robbie Shakespeare's first recording session for Sonia Pottinger. Also one of the final recordings of Slim Smith, "Blinded By Love", features Robbie on bass. Then Aston 'Family Man' Barrett, who was pivotal in leading him to the instrument that made him famous, made sure Robbie was allowed to participate in the Wailers' "Catch A Fire" album, featuring the young bass player on "Concrete Jungle" and "Stir It Up".

While Sly formed Skin, Flesh & Bones and with this band increasingly became involved in recording sessions, particularly those held at Randy's studio (included here are Al Brown's massive hit "Here I Am Baby", its follow up tune "I've Got To Go On Without You Now", and "Tit For Tat" by Skin, Flesh & Bones), Robbie became the musical director of Bunny Lee's regular session band The Aggrovators. The latter provide backing on the Cornell Campbell tunes "Wherever I Lay My Hat" and "I Shall Not Remove", Johnny Clarke's "Rock With Me Baby" and "Move Out Of Babylon", Linval Thompson's "Natty Dread Girl" and "Don't Cut Off Your Dreadlocks", and John Holt's "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine".

John Holt's "Up Park Camp" is the first track on this set that features the sound of The Revolutionaries with Sly on drums and Robbie on bass. This piece, along with Trinity's "Pope Paul Dead And Gone" and The Revolutionaries' "Freedom Dub", fully showcases why The Revolutionaries became the hottest backing band of the roots era.

Throughout their enduring career Sly & Robbie have laid down some of the tightest drum and bass, whether it's militant rockers, heavy roots or more laid back grooves, and this collection of tunes brings back to mind how it all started back in the days.