Various Artists

Blazin' Reggae

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Mixing the poppier side of reggae with some reggae-flavored pop, Blazin' Reggae is a successful and fun collection that should appeal to the casual and/or curious reggae fan. The massive hits "No Letting Go," "Who Am I," and "Pon de River, Pon de Bank" are givens on a collection like this, but what Blazin' Reggae surrounds the no-brainers with is more exciting than usual. Throwing "Never Leave You -- Uh Ooh, Oh Oooh!" on after "No Letting Go" is a smart move that points out how the R&B hit was based on the Jamaican born "Diwali" riddim, since both Lumidee and Wayne Wonder employ the infectious backing track. Better still is the inclusion of older cuts like the great human beatbox meets dancehall "Freaks" by Vicious and Doug E. Fresh and Shabba Ranks' slinky, sexy, and decade-old duet with Krystal, "Twice My Age." Stretching the definition of reggae further than anything else on the disc, Funkstar de Luxe's disco-fied remix of Bob Marley is pure camp, but it's at the end and easy to ignore if you can't stand the glitz.

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