Tag Archives: Jamaica

RIP Robbie Shakespeare (1953 – 2021)

“Don’t Stop the Music” (1981) by Bits & Pieces

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.

Boops (Here To Go)” (1987)

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.

 Padlock EP (1983) by Gwen Guthrie

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.

RIP Bunny Lee (1941 – 2020)

Bunny Lee was a Jamaican record producer and one of the major forces in the Jamaican music industry, producing hits throughout his long career.

“Wet Dream”

His song “Wet Dream”, interpreted by Max Romeo, became popular in 1968 despite being banned on the BBC; and Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby” would be covered by the Rolling Stones.

“My Conversation”

Lee also produced the perennial riddim “My Conversation”.

‘If Deejay Was Your Trade’ (1994)

The compilation ‘If Deejay Was Your Trade’ (1994), which was the debut release of the reggae compilation label Blood and Fire, consists of a selection of his productions from the period 1974-1977.

The documentary ‘I Am The Gorgon – Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae’ is in full on YouTube.

RIP Johnny Nash (1940 – 2020)

Johnny Nash  was an African-American singer-songwriter, best known for his 1972 hit “I Can See Clearly Now“.

On the Belgian popcorn scene, popular recordings of Nash included “Some of Your Lovin'”, “Old Man River”, “Moment of Weakness”, “Kisses”, “I’m Leaving”, “I’m Counting On You” and “Don’t Take Away Your Love”.

RIP Toots ‘Maytal’ Hibbert (1942 – 2020)

“Funky Kingston” (1972)

Toots Hibbert was a Jamaican singer and songwriter, leader for the band Toots & the Maytals. He is best-known for such songs as “54-46 That’s My Number” (1968), “Pressure Drop” (1970) and “Funky Kingston” (1972).

Hibbert was one of the first artists to use the word “reggae” in 1968’s “Do the Reggay”.

RIP Millie “My Boy Lollipop” Small (1947 – 2020)

Millie Small was the singer of “My Boy Lollipop” (1964), her only hit.

She was the first Jamaican artist to break through to an international audience.

Did this mean international recognition for ska and reggae?

Well, not exactly, “My Boy Lollipop” was considered a novelty song rather than ska or reggae.

Thus reggae’s invasion into the mainstream actually only began that same year in the United Kingdom with songs such as “Al Capone” (1964) and “Guns of Navarone” (1964).

But in the United States, the wait was for 1969 with “The Israelites” (1968) to give reggae international repute and recognition.