Sly and Robbie Pay Tribute to Red Hills Rd on Latest Album

 Sly and Robbie, Red Hills Rd

by Howard Campbell

[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – In the early 1970s, drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare were among the legions of Jamaican musicians who made a living playing in clubs along Red Hills Road, a lively strip in Kingston.

The clubs from that era have long closed but the Riddim Twins still make music there from the One Pop Studio.

Red Hills Rd. is the title of their new album, released jointly in November by the duo’s Taxi Records and French company, Tabou 1 Records.

It is their first album since Dubrising which was released in 2014, also by Taxi and Tabou 1.

“Wi jus’ mek some tracks over di years and wi jus’ decide to put dem out ’cause dem sound good. Wi can’t afford to waste chunes (tunes) these days,” said Dunbar.

Red Hills Rd Musicians

The 13-song set hears Sly and Robbie working with musicians who have been part of their Taxi Gang for many years. They include keyboardists Ansell Collins and Steven “Lenky” Marsden, saxophonist Dean Fraser, trombonist Nambo Robinson (who passed away in 2017) and singers Peter G and Cherine Anderson.

Peter G does a cover of Arthur Prysock’s When Love is New, while Anderson scats on Sweet Dub. Robinson, who died in 2018, shows his stuff on Sweat Box.

An interesting inclusion is the funky instrumental Santa Barbara, which drove Chaka Demus and Pliers’ Murder She Wrote to the British national chart in 1993.

Dunbar and Shakespeare have collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop music, from Bob Dylan to Mick Jagger, The Tom Tom Club, Grace Jones and No Doubt. The toughest audience to please, however, are Jamaicans.

“Is not like hip hop or R&B where you just do everything straight. When you make a reggae album, you have to have a little roots, a little dancehall and some lovers rock. You have to keep everybody happy,” said Dunbar, laughing.

Sly and Robbie won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1999 with Friends, a set that saw them working with artists such as Maxi Priest and Mick Hucknall from Simply Red.



South Florida Caribbean News

The SFLCN.com Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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