Sly & Robbie

Underwater Dub

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The legendary Jamaican rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare have been quite busy since the millennium turned, working for numerous other artists while minding their Taxi Gang label and cultivating careers, so 2012's Blackwood Dub was the only strictly Sly & Robbie, strictly dub album for quite some time. The 2014 release of Underwater Dub is a worthy follow-up and a sign that it's back to duo business after so many years behind the scenes, and as such, it's a more relaxed, more mellow, and more humble affair than its predecessor, free from living up to those "comeback" expectations. Living up to the album's title, the echoing and swaying "Dictionary" is a slow slide into an album that pounds harder on cuts like "Forward March" and the wonderfully looping highlight "Stormy." Playful touches are added as "Spray Belly" opens with a Lee "Scratch" Perry-type sample and the bright melody of "French Woman" toddles about like a Mademoiselle in high heels; then deep sea diving happens during the cavernous "Melissa," while the closing "Thumb Drive" messes with a computer beat before revealing a hidden track that sounds like dubstep ricocheting around the Taxi Gang studios. Blackwood Dub is the tighter release, but sprawling and comfortable Sly & Robbie is found here, so consider both albums excellent and complementary.

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