Various Artists

Strictly the Best, Vol. 30

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Less hard-edged than its predecessor in the series, Strictly the Best, Vol. 30 focuses on singers rather than DJs and more on mainstream reggae rhythms rather than slamming dancehall beats. Wisely, it includes two performances by Sanchez (who has been the class of any compilation on which he appears since the 1980s), but most of the rest of the program is up to the same standard: the combo track by Sean Paul and Sasha is charming, and the venerable Glen Washington remains in fine voice on "Your Love." Beres Hammond is at the top of his game on the excellent "Holiday," and Tony Curtis delivers a hilarious ganja ode to the tune of "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" with "High Grade." Shinehead makes a welcome return to the scene with "You Sang to Me" (though someone should have pointed out to him that the song does not modulate to a minor key in the bridge). The only really disposable number on this album is Kashief Lindo's "Music Is a Part of Me," to which the only reasonable response is "who cares?" Highly recommended overall.

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