The Peter Tosh entry in Sony's The Essential series of best-ofs is a reasonable selection from Tosh's limited catalog of Columbia Records recordings, which includes only two studio albums, Legalize It (1976) and Equal Rights (1977), plus a belatedly released concert album, Live & Dangerous Boston 1976 (2001). In 1999, Columbia/Legacy released Scrolls of the Prophet: The Best of Peter Tosh, which included material from both the Columbia studio albums and Tosh's subsequent tenure on the Rolling Stones and EMI America labels (1978-1987). Since that collection, which is more comprehensive than this one, was selling for the same $11.98 list price at the time that The Essential Peter Tosh: The Columbia Years was released, it was difficult to understand why someone looking for a good, inexpensive collection of Tosh's best major-label recordings wouldn't go for the earlier collection instead. True, the newer album does contain "Why Must I Cry," an excellent song co-written by Bob Marley that is not found on Scrolls of the Prophet, as well as a live version of the Wailers classic "400 Years" also missing from the earlier disc. But Scrolls of the Prophet is still a better album on the whole.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann