Various Artists

Reggae Gold 2006

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Now going on its 13th year, VP's Reggae Gold series remains vital with its 2006 edition. After kicking off with massive worldwide hit "Temperature" from Sean Paul, Reggae Gold 2006 brings it back to the island of Jamaica with the infectious "Step Out" from up-and-comer Busy Signal. From here, the collection keeps it authentic, up 'til R. Kelly's "Slow Wine," which features Sean Paul and Akon in a wonderful R&B and reggae blend. The always reliable T.O.K. keeps it polished with their rousing club track "Hotta," but their over-the-top hedonism is tempered by the wonderful roots music presented in the album's fourth quarter. Veteran singer Richie Spice's "Youths Dem Cold" is the heartbreaking best of the bunch, but nearly as good is Bitty McLean's "Baby Tonight," which is a thrilling throwback to the old days, thanks in no small part to a killer resurrected Duke Reid riddim. Strange that VP decided to blend the styles of Vogue and Maxim magazine for the cover artwork, but reggae fans shouldn't let that scare them away from this satisfying collection. [Reggae Gold 2006 was initially released with a bonus DVD featuring live footage of T.O.K., Assassin, and Ding Dong along with interviews with the models featured throughout the CD booklet.]

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