Various Artists

Ultimate Reggae

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

UTV's Ultimate Reggae is something of a successor to previous reggae compilations issued by different branches of the Universal Music Group of labels, notably 1998's Pure Reggae and 1999's Reggae Party, at least in the sense that, if you wonder why a particular classic reggae track, such as Desmond Dekker & the Aces' "Israelites," is missing, it may be found on one of the earlier collections, which were chosen by the same compilers. Still, this one differs from those predecessors in its breadth. As is true of the Ultimate collections assembled by sister label Hip-O, this one attempts to justify its title by licensing tracks beyond the already extensive Universal catalog, so that, for example, Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now," Third World's "1865 (96 Degrees in the Shade)," and Peter Tosh's "Equal Rights," all of which are owned by Sony, are included. The most obvious exclusion is anything by Bob Marley & the Wailers, reggae's greatest act. Since Marley's catalog is under Universal's purview and tracks were included on the previous compilations, his absence here is inexplicable. The use of "And You Be Loved," by his son Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, which features a sample of "Could You Be Loved," does not make up for the loss. That very large problem excepted, however, this is a good chronological sampling of 30 years of reggae, dating back to early-'70s tracks by Toots & the Maytals and Jimmy Cliff, including good selections from major figures such as Burning Spear and Gregory Isaacs, and bringing things up to date with Buju Banton and Shaggy.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Toots & the Maytals 03:11 Amazon
2 Jimmy Cliff 03:07 Amazon
3 Johnny Nash 02:44 Amazon
4 Burning Spear 03:23 Amazon
5 Third World 03:44 Amazon
6 Peter Tosh 05:54 Amazon
7 Junior Murvin 04:11 Amazon
8 Black Uhuru 03:40 Amazon
9 Eek-A-Mouse 03:55 Amazon
10 Dennis Brown 04:29 Amazon
11 Gregory Isaacs 04:01 Amazon
12 Yellowman 04:09 Amazon
Half Pint 03:35 Amazon
14 Chaka Demus / Chaka Demus & Pliers / Pliers 04:04 Amazon
15 Chevelle Franklin / Shabba Ranks 05:39 Amazon
16 Shaggy 04:21 Amazon
17 Buju Banton 04:34 Amazon
18 Beenie Man 03:17 Amazon
19 Damian Marley 04:21 Amazon
20 Mr. Vegas 03:28 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick