Various Artists

Queens of Reggae

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Times Square Records scores points for the idea of compiling a distaff reggae collection to spotlight the female side of Jamaican music. But the album itself leaves something to be desired. True, it includes selections by all three members of Bob Marley's former backup vocal group the I-Threes, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths, as well as such accomplished performers as Lady Saw and Sister Carol. And it demonstrates that women reggae singers and toasters, like their male counterparts, can use the music to promote political and religious messages along with expressing romantic sentiments. But the album itself is skimpy. Spread across two CDs, it runs less than 72-minutes, so that the music easily could have fit on a single disc. Even at that, it's padded, with three versions of "God Bless the Children." And there are few annotations to help with an understanding of the artists. Song titles and songwriting credits are sometimes incorrect or absent. Jennifer Lara's "Rainy Night in Georgia" fails to credit Tony Joe White as the author of this standard; Sharon Forrester's cover of Eurythmics' "There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)" is not credited to songwriters Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, and it is mistitled "Must Be an Angel"; and, similarly, Ashford & Simpson are not credited for what should be called "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," the old Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell hit, but has instead been listed as "Ain't Nothing but the Real Thing" in Nadine Sutherland's version. Such sloppiness is legally dubious, and it is also suggestive of a slapdash approach that makes this collection inferior, despite some spirited performances.

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