SLY & ROBBIE & the TAXI GANG with BITTY MCLEAN - TOURING NORTH AMERICA -- MAY / JUNE 2015
Sly Dunbar (drums) and Robbie Shakespeare (bass), the arrangers, producers, songwriters, session musicians and developers of raw talent, are widely acknowledged as 'the world's greatest rhythm section'. 'The Riddim Twins' have been together for over 35 years....between them they are estimated to have played on or produced over 200,000 recordings. Their list of collaborators is a veritable who's who -- there's every prominent Jamaican artist from Beenie Man to Sean Paul to Peter Tosh, Don Carlos, Michael Rose, Junior Reid, Shaggy, Cherine Anderson, Bitty Mclean, Black Uhuru, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Ini Kamoze; and they have played with and produced artists such as Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Paul McCartney, Carlos Santana, Sinéad O'Connor, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, UB40's Ali Campbell, Joe Cocker, No Doubt, the Fugees, Michael Franti and countless others.
Sly and Robbie have an extensive history. They have toured North America, Europe and Japan with the Taxi Gang which includes an ultimate lineup of top Jamaican recording musicians. Sly and Robbie, affectionately known as the Riddim Twins, are perhaps the premiere architects of the modern sound of Jamaican music. Building on the cornerstones of Studio 1 and other early pioneers of the Jamaican recording industry, Sly and Robbie became the driving force behind the fabled Channel 1 sound that dominated reggae throughout the late 70's and early 80's. Subsequent work, most notably with Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru, set the pace for the changing sound of reggae in the post-Bob Marley era.
Johnny Osbourne, who will also be featured on this tour package, is a popular Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer who rose to success in the late 1970s and mid-1980's. His career has been going strong for 30 years and shows no sign of letting up singing soulful reggae and also having a massive dancehall catalog. With his warm voice filled with conviction and yearning, he is one of the Jamaica's best, especially on standards like "Ice Cream Love," "Water Pumping," and countless rub-a-dub singles. His album Truth and Rights was a notable roots reggae success. Osbourne is best known for his mid-1980s dancehall reggae hits "Buddy Bye" based on King Jammy's Sleng Teng riddim "Ice Cream Love" and "Water Pumping".
During 1967 Osbourne became lead vocalist of The Wildcats, and recorded for producer Winston Riley, although nothing was issued. The Wildcats' manager then financed a session at Coxsone Dodd's Studio One, from which his debut single, "All I Have Is Love", was released. In 1969 he recorded an album, Come Back Darling, an again for Riley. On the day that he completed the album, Osbourne emigrated to Toronto, Canada to join his family. After singing with various soul and reggae groups, he became lead vocalist for Ishan People, and recorded two albums with them. The group broke up in 1979, and Osbourne decided to return to Jamaica.
Shortly after returning, he recorded "Forgive Them" and "Jealousy, Heartache And Pain" for the Studio One label. Through late 1979 and early 1980 he recorded extensively for Dodd, with these sessions culminating in Truths And Rights. In 1979 he also had a hit for King (then Prince Jammy) with "Folly Ranking", and an album of the same name followed in 1980. The success of these recordings made him one of the most in-demand vocalists on the island, and a glut of material was released, including Fally Lover, Warrior, Innah Disco Style and Never Stop Fighting, between 1980 and 1982. In 1983, he began the year with two big hits, "Yo Yo" and "Lend Me A Chopper", and later in the year enjoyed further success with "Water Pumping", an adaptation of Hopeton Lewis "Take It Easy", which had also served as the basis for Johnny Clarke's 1976 hit "Rockers Time Now".
The hits continued with "Get Cracking", "Check For You", "Rewind" (1984), "Buddy Bye", "No Sound Like We" and "In The Area" (1985). In the late 1980s he was particularly successful when recording for Bobby Digital and had hits with "Good Time Rock" (1988) and "Rude Boy Skank" (1988), both of which are included on his 1989 album, Rougher Than Them. Throughout the 1980s he continued to record for Coxsone Dodd, and singles included "Keep That Light", "Unity" and "A We Run Things."
The other featured artist in this package is Bitty Mclean. Bitty has many notable worldwide hit songs and he has toured Europe and Japan extensively doing festivals and club dates backed by Sly & Robbie and the Taxi Gang. Most of Bitty's studio work is also in collaboration with Sly and Robbie. Bitty is a much loved UK based talent with an astonishing voice and unnerving ability to pen a pop smash. McLean launched himself into the high end of the British charts with a string of Top Ten hits in the early 90s. Born in 1972, Bitty's earliest memories were punctuated with the music he would hear courtesy of his father's sound system, where he started by singing over Jamaican Dub and Instrumental riddims. In 1992, McLean not only co-produced but played and sang on UB40's hugely successful album Promises And Lies which sold 8 million copies. Bitty's own recordings including It Keeps Rainin, Dedicated To The One I Love, Here I Stand notched up 3 UK top ten singles by 1994 selling over 1 million records. The subsequent years saw Bitty accrue a fearsome catalogue of top 30 singles, as well as playing UK arena tours with UB40, Wet Wet Wet and Simply Red.
In 2004, Bitty released the superb On Bond Street, in which Duke Reid's Treasure Isle instrumentals played by the legendary Tommy McCook and the Supersonics formed the basis of the album. Bitty complemented these 35 year old tracks with such elegance it was hard to believe he was not there when the tracks were originally recorded.
Bitty followed up with a major collaboration with the worlds' greatest rhythm section, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. The trio recorded Movin' On, a brand new studio album in Kingston, Jamaica. Featuring the hits Real Thing, Lately and Let Them Talk, Movin' On came out in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim, as the New York Times hailed it as the best Reggae album of that year.
Following tours of Europe and Japan with Sly & Robbie and the Taxi Gang, Bitty went back to the studio and recorded a follow up to Movin' On entitled The Taxi Sessions. The Taxi Sessions blends Sly and Robbie's classic hard rockers and rub a dub riddims recorded during the 80's with a first rate line up of Jamaican musicians with Bitty's trademark voice. Featuring the Riddim Twins' distinctive sound along with Bitty's songwriting and vocals, The Taxi Sessions not only reaffirms, but also solidifies Bitty McLean as one of Reggae's premier singers and songwriters, as exemplified by superb tracks such as Blessings By The Score, Brotherman or A Step Closer