It would be dumb to attempt to write anything about Sly & Robbie and hope to do them justice – those cats have been so prolific and influential that the term “drum & bass” ought to belong to them. It’s been estimated that they’ve played on or produced over 200,000 tracks… not including remixes and dub versions! But it was the period in the early 80s when they were working with New York disco artists and adding experimental dub elements that was really it.
One of the greatest records they ever worked on was the ‘Padlock’ EP by Gwen Guthrie – the defining moment for the garage house sound. As a selling point, much was made of the fact that Larry Levan did the final mixing, but when the music is provided by Sly & Robbie you can’t really go wrong.
Interestingly, the EP was engineered by Steven Stanley, who also produced the Tom Tom Club classics ‘Genius Of Love’ and ‘Wordy Rappinghood’. In fact, the Tom Tom Club album from that period was recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas where Sly & Robbie played. (And for more on that vibe it’s also worth checking out ‘Adventures In Success’ by Will Powers.)
There’s a track on the ‘Padlock’ EP called ‘Peanut Butter’, the vocals of which were written by Koo Koo Baya, and the same title was used for the instrumental version of Grace Jones’s ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, which Baya also wrote. On both ‘Peanut Butter’ tracks, (recorded between 1981-2), Sly & Robbie and Steven Stanley were behind the music. It’s easy to dismiss ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ now, because it’s so well known, but the production on this is just so hot… it’s one of the ultimate tracks.
Posted by Manny Z