Various Artists

Holding up Half the Sky: Women in Reggae - Roots Daughters

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This collection (not to be confused with its similarly titled African counterpart, also on the Shanachie label) focuses on performances by women singers from the late 1970s, reggae's classical period. These fifteen tracks round up the usual suspects -- Rita Marley's much-anthologized ganja anthem "One Draw," Marcia Griffiths' "Steppin' out of Babylon," just to name two -- but they also include a few obscure gems. "International Style" is a charming deejay track from early in the distinguished career of Sister Carol, and Marcia Aitken does a commendable job of responding to the Meditations' misogynist classic "Woman Is Like a Shadow" by altering its lyrics and rendering it "Narrow-Minded Man." Her version may even be better than the original. Shan-I Benjamen (of the Ariwa posse) makes an appearance with the nutritional ode "Look After Your Structure" ("Rice and peas and ackee, that makes me happy") and brings along the Mad Professor for a dub cameo. I know, I know -- the album has two subtitles, just like a bad senior thesis. Try to ignore it.

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