Strictly The Best Vol. 34
VP Records-Walboomers Music
December 22, 2005

Track list
  1. True Reflection - Jah Cure
  2. Serious Times - Gyptian
  3. Righteous Youths - Richie Spice
  4. Inna Dance - Anthony Cruz
  5. Don't Worry - I Wayne
  6. Receive - Junior Kelly
  7. Princess Gone - Jah Mason
  8. We Have Got Love - Sasha feat. Turbulence
  9. Couldn't Be The Girl For Me - Terry Linen
  10. I Don't Know Why I Love You - Mr. Vegas
  11. Home And Away - Norris Man
  12. Take It Slow - Roger Robin
  13. Focusing Time-Duet - Marcia Griffiths & Beres Hammond
  14. Lock It Down - Freddie Mcgregor
  15. Come Home - Morgan Heritage
  16. Name And Number - Turbulence
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 3 Production : 3 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 2
"Strictly The Best 34" is the partner release of volume 33 which aims to cover the roots and lovers side of reggae music or as VP phrase it the 'Singer's version' as opposed to STB 33's dancehall. Featuring a mix of performers including veterans like Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths and Freddie McGregor alongside 'Young Lions' such as I Wayne, Jah Cure and Richie Spice, there is plenty of quality and something for listeners young and old. As well as big names the album delivers a number of hit songs like Jah Cure's "True Reflection" and Gyptian's "Serious Times" thereby appealing to fans who want a compilation akin to VP's Reggae Gold series but covering the time between releases.

There are a number of what I think are odd selections, namely Morgan Heritage's "Come Home", I Wayne's "Don't Worry" and Turbulence's "Name And Number". Although they are all decent tracks these artists all have better offerings on their latest albums and ones which better demonstrate their abilities. However this weakness is more than compensated for by the greater number of strong selections including Junior Kelly's smooth love song "Receive" and the classic reggae vibes of Richie Spice's "Righteous Youths". Jah Mason's heartfelt "Princess Gone" is one of the artist's best tracks, and Roger Robin's laid back vocals on the catchy "Take It Slow" provides another high point of the album. The only track I found disappointing is Jah Cure's "True Reflection" which I have always thought has an irritating maudlin quality - although given the songs success I may be in a minority here.

Overall despite some odd selections and being far from comprehensive "Strictly The Best 34" is a solid compilation of some of the highlights, in terms of artists as much as individual tracks, who have enjoyed success this year. It is more consistent than its dancehall counterpart and on the whole an enjoyable selection of tracks with two or three real stand outs and no major flops.