Various Artists

Best of Reggae [EMI]

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This three-disc 48-track compilation of Jamaican reggae is all over the map, but there is a general feeling of cohesiveness to it since many of the songs address matters of social and political unrest while still retaining a bright, summery tone. Collected here are intriguing sides like Shaggy's trash can ragged "In the Summertime," I-Roy's dubbed-out toast on "African Herbsman," Delroy Washington's "Freedom Fighters," the Mighty Diamonds' gorgeous and earnest "Right Time," and the Abyssinians' "Dem a Come." It doesn't add up to an essential survey of Jamaican reggae or anything like that, and if one were truly to call this "The Best of Reggae" then there sure are a lot of critical songs and artists absent (Bob Marley, for one obvious instance), but what is here is engaging enough to make this set worth picking up at a budget price.

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