Monday, August 22, 2011

Behind the Scenes Storytellers - Part I: Sly and Robbie

This week I'm going to be focusing on storytellers that ply their craft behind the scenes. Many of these people may be people you've never heard of, but I'll bet you're familiar with some of their work.

I don't know if many people would count music producers as storytellers, but I do, and this is my blog.

Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare are probably the most prolific recording artists in the history of music, and most people have never heard of them. They've produced more songs than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, and even Rick Rubin. It's estimated that they have performed on, or helped produce, over 200,000 songs.

They started out as the rhythm section of drummer Lowell Dunbar (nicknamed Sly after Sly Stone) and bass guitarist Robert Shakespeare, but have since evolved into a production team making all kinds of music from Dancehall and Reggae, to Rock, Pop, and R&B. They are known for a distinctive drum and bass, reggae swing sound, and make some of the best beats and basslines I've ever heard.

From Wikipedia:

Far from restricting themselves to the Jamaican scene, (in which they have played for virtually every prominent Jamaican musical artist from Beenie Man to Sean Paul to Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Ini Kamoze and others), they have been one of pop music's most sought after rhythm sections, playing for and producing superstars such as Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Joan Armatrading, Gilberto Gil, Joe Cocker, Matisyahu, Serge Gainsbourg, Simply Red, Michael Franti, Sting, Khaled, Mey Vidal, Naniwaman, Tricky, Doug E. Fresh, Carlos Santana, Sinéad O'Connor, and many more.

I don't think I've ever come across a song that Sly and Robbie had a part in making that I didn't like. They don't get a lot of recognition for their work, even though they work hard, but they've played a big part in making a lot of great songs for a lot of great artists.

Here are a few songs you probably didn't know they made:



Matisyahu - Jerusalem (Out Of The Darkness Comes Light)



Mick Jagger - She's the Boss



Michael Franti and Spearhead - Say Hey (I Love You)



Madonna - Supernatural (Remix)



Herbie Hancock - Rockit (12 inch maxi-mix)



No Doubt - Underneath It All ft. Lady Saw



Chaka Demus & Pliers - Murder She Wrote



No Doubt - Hey Baby ft. Bounty Killer

Please come back tomorrow for another unknown taleweaver.

22 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I'm with you, song writers are sometimes the best storytellers!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There are some amazing songwriters behind the scenes that never get the credit.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great examples. And I love your new picture.

Sarah said...

What a great series! Songwriters are definitely storytellers in the most traditional sense, and as you said, so many of them are unknown.

K. M. Walton said...

No way did you put Chaka Demus, Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Gregory Isaacs & Dennis Brown in your blog post. Good taste, Mr. MacNish, good taste.

Plus, Sly & Robbie?! Dude, I'm impressed.

Creepy Query Girl said...

wow- Thanks for highlighting Sly and Robbie! I never made the association between all those songs! They're kind of like unsung heros- pardon the pun.

Scott Stillwell said...

Completely agree with the songwriters as storytellers idea. In fact, we went to see Alison Krauss and Union Station just last night, and I consider them to be some of the finest storytellers around. They don't write all of their material, but they sure do bring it to life.

By the way, this sounds like a cool series of posts you have planned. Can't wait to read the next installments.

Talli Roland said...

Some of the best stories I've ever heard/ seen have been in music videos!

Jessica Bell said...

Awesome! I seriously didn't know about these guys. I feel kinda ashamed right now ... lol

Em-Musing said...

Hey, thanks for the info. I LOVE reggae, and am well aware of Sly & Robbie, but I wasn't aware of the presence in other's recordings.

LTM said...

they have sort of a dancy, cool sound. I like it.

And every so often, I'll have a Herbie Hancock moment. I just know I'm hearing a rip off... :D LOL!

Old Kitty said...

Oooh BBC4 had a special on Sly and Robbie - prolific writers/musicians/producers - talented beautiful wonderful team!!! Yay for them!! It was such an eye opener for me - I mean look how good they made Madge sound! LOL!! No offence Madge, love you!

Take care
x

Bish Denham said...

Wow, that is awesome! Which just goes to show ya that one doesn't need to be famous to be a huge success and have people banging on your studio door wanting you to work with them.

Robyn Lucas said...

had no idea they've had a hand in so many songs. how awesome is that?

julie fedderson said...

I think it takes incredible talent to tell an entire story in a 4 minute song. Songwriters are some of the best storytellers.

maine character said...

I knew them only from one of Dylan's best albums, Infidels (Dylan had asked for them himself), so it's a surprise how prolific they are, and over such a period of time.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Very cool to see the behind the scenes of the music scene. I really hadn't ever heard of them and they've worked with some amazing songs/artists!

Michael Offutt said...

You're right. I had never heard of these guys.

Bryan Russell said...

Now I want to drum something. If only I had rhythm.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great series. And you're right that songwriters are storytellers. And I love your new picture. Your pictures with your kids are so sweet.

Ishta Mercurio said...

WOW. I would never have thought to put Sinead O'Connor, Bob Dylan, MAdonna, and Mick Jagger into the same pot. It's incredible what a couple of extremely talented people can do if they find their niche and go for it.

Thanks for sharing! I look forward to tomorrow's post.

Carrie said...

Great post on these music producers. I had no idea that they'd done so much.