Record of the Day: Sly and Robbie, "Make'em Move"

Record of the Day: Sly and Robbie, “Make'em Move”

Sly and Robbie
Make'em Move (Universal Spectrum CD 546-540-2)

Sly Dunbar (drums) and Robbie Shakespeare (bass) are the two most famous instrumentalists on the Jamaican music scene, unanimously considered one of the best rhythm sections in the world. They have lent their work to hundreds of albums, making themselves noticed since 1974, and the precise and powerful rhythmic charge that their grooves are able to bring to each song has earned them the nickname “Rhythm Killers”.

After having become very popular in Jamaica thanks to their collaborations with Gregory Isaacs, Black Uhuru, Bunny Lee and groups such as Aggravators and Gladiators, the duo founded their own record label, Taxi Records, which in addition to continuously churning out remixes and new recordings of two, it served as a launching pad for numerous artists on the local scene.
Their fame took on international dimensions thanks to the collaboration with the producer Chris Blackwell, who in addition to signing them for Island, made them collaborate with famous artists such as Grace Jones, Joe Cocker, James Brown. The interest generated by these impeccable instrumental performances further cemented their reputation, and soon Sly and Robbie found themselves in the studio collaborating with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Cyndi Lauper, Herbie Hancock and countless others.

In 1985 they successfully released their best album, “Language barrier”, which ingeniously combined funk, rap, rock, reggae and electronics in a bubbling cauldron intended for strong palates, saturated with pounding rhythms, obsessive riffs, dark atmospheres and threatening. The subsequent “Rhythm Killers” and “Silent Assassin” had equal success, where the musical language approached new styles such as ragga and dancehall, while the deadly rhythms of the duo supported the
rap by KRS-One and Chaka Demus, with whom they hit the English charts again in 1993 thanks to the album “Murder She Wrote”.

Having now become a real trademark, Sly and Robbie are also highly sought after as producers and continue to do so
churning out albums at an industrial pace; this production frenzy sometimes comes at the expense of quality but this anthology will not disappoint you; collects the best of their albums for Island, with fourteen lightning-fast tracks to listen to at your best
volume to fully appreciate all its power.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and publisher.