Robbie Shakespeare was a bass player who, with his partner Sly Dunbar, formed the most influential reggae rhythm section between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s.
I found out about Robbie’s death in De Standaard in which Karel Michiels wrote a knowledgeable obituary. Michiels had struck me before when writing about the death of Bunny Wailer. When I came home I googled him. I found out he is a reggae musician in his own right and performs under the name Jah Shakespeare.
What is my history with Sly and Robbie?
I think a friend of mine had a tape of Taxi Gang (a Sly and Robbie moniker) with her when I traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in the early 1990s.
When I collected records during the late 1990s and early 2000s, I found a copy of “Don’t Stop the Music”, a track which they recorded under the moniker Bits & Pieces, a cover of the disco song.
And then there is “Boops (Here To Go)” (1987) produced by Bill Laswell. This I first heard in Tom Tom Club in Antwerp. When I tried to find it in the internet era, it took me some time, thinking the lyrics were, “civil check, arms open wide” in stead of “Si boops deh. With arms open wide”.
Compass Point houseband
Besides all this, the duo are central to what is perhaps my favorite recording studio. I am referring to Compass Point, where Sly and Robbie were central to the house band Compass Point All Stars. Everybody played there, perhaps most central to my universe, Serge Gainsbourg.
The Padlock EP
And, to conclude: Robbie also did the bass line on that unforgettable record Padlock EP (1983) by Gwen Guthrie, produced by Larry Levan.
Evette Benton (1953 – 2021) was an American singer known for her background work as one of the vocalists of the The Sweethearts of Sigma. She can also be heard on such records as “Space Bass” (1979).
You could say that “Space Bass” is specimen of the space disco genre. In that genre, if it exists, should also be “Dancing in Outer Space”, “The Chase”, “Cocomotion”, “Powerline”, “Space Funk”, “Carry On”, “Turn Me On”, “Atmosphere Strut”, “Solar Flight (Opus 1)”, “Nobody’s Got Time”, “War Dance”.
Nanci Griffith was an American singer-songwriter working in country, folk, and what she termed “folkabilly.”
She is known for such songs as the anti-war song “From a Distance” (1982) and the anti-racism anthem “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go” (1989). That is her socially engaged side, which, as a matter of principle almost, does not interest me very much.
There is another side, the slice-of-life side, represented by her song “Love at the Five and Dime” (1986). This side interests me more, also because the “five and dime” of the title reminds me of Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982) by Robert Altman.
I saw the film that composition stems from. I saw that film when it came out and never forgot the music. I later bought the twelve inch. I sold my collection of records when I moved into my current apartment in 2015.