Various Artists

Redbull & Guinness

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If for no other reason, the 81st instalment in the Greensleeves label's ongoing series of one-rhythm albums deserves a place in the history books for being, very likely, the first reggae album to have nothing but product placements for a title. But in fact, Redbull and Guinness is also noteworthy for the quality of the Delly Ranx rhythm after which the album is named: starting with the kind of intricate handclapping that you might normally hear in a flamenco bar or a Steve Reich composition, "Red Bull & Guinness" then slides into an interesting mix of spare offbeats and soft synthesizer chords. It's the kind of rhythm that singers and toasters from a variety of different schools will find equally inviting, and indeed this album features a fairly broad spectrum of musical treatments. The highlights are no surprise: Sizzla lays down a hard and blistering rap on "Nuh Business," while Turbulence gives one of his strongest singjay performances on "Treat Her Good," riding the rhythm expertly while bringing some melodic invention to the mix as well. There is also a very fine combination track from Mr. Vegas and Mega Banton on the excellent "Money Thing." Vybz Kartel is off his game here, and though he appears twice on the program he can't seem to break out of a generic guns-and-slackness mode. Most embarrassing of all is Spragga Benz, who never does figure out what key the rhythm is written in. Between those two extremes there are about 15 tracks that offer various levels of niceness. Not bad at all.

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