Sly & Robbie Presents Sounds of Taxi 1st Volume
The uncannily propulsive rhythm work of drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare has provided the musical keystone to countless reggae classics. The two distinguished themselves as session men for producers like Joseph Hoo Kim and Bunny Lee, but it was in the late ‘70s—when they founded their own Taxi imprint—that they began to perfect the skeletal, often computer-assisted productions that helped define the evolution of Jamaican music in the ‘80s. Sounds of Taxi is a carefully curated 20-track collection of some of the best Taxi releases of the early and mid-‘80s. It includes familiar tracks like The Tamlins’ haunting, Nina Simone–inspired take on Randy Newman’s “Baltimore” and Black Uhuru’s classic roots-man anthem “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” but the most exciting tracks here may be the most obscure. Gregory Isaacs’ underrated “Soon Forward”, for example, is every bit as wonderful as the slow-bubbling lovers' sides he cut in the mid-‘70s, while Dennis Brown’s “Revolution” gains menace from Dunbar's thunderous, synth pad–triggered handclaps, which anticipate the popularity of digital percussion among Jamaican producers by a number of years.