Sly & Robbie

Unmetered Taxi

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They may have played on more records than any other rhythm section out there, but listening to Unmetered Taxi, it would seem that the deadly duo of drummer Sly Dunbar and bass player Robbie Shakespeare saved their best work for themselves. Their Taxi imprint is the focus of this collection, and it has been curated by one of the best labels active in archiving Jamaican music, Pressure Sounds. Every selection appears here twice: a vocal followed by a dub or version. It's a great format that showcases both Sly & Robbie's production of singers and their own tougher-than-tough riddims as well. Reggae fans will more than likely be familiar with Black Uhuru and their "Shine Eye Girl," which was one of the first examples of Sly's distinctive syndrum sound, but otherwise Unmetered Taxi is full of songs that didn't make it far from the sound systems of Jamaica and Britain. Dennis Brown's "Revolution" gets the requisite version but also a radically different dubplate mix as well. The Tamlins appear twice with "Real Love" and a cover of Randy Newman's "Baltimore." Thriller and the great rub-a-dub "Tickle Me" is joined by an equally great cavernous dub. The list of great songs goes on and on, with nary a bad selection among the 21 cuts. Unmetered Taxi is a small window into Sly & Robbie's uniquely sophisticated ghetto music that sounds as vibrant and contemporary as it did when it first appeared.

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