Strictly the Best Vol. 35
VP Records
November 29, 2006

Tony Matterhorn - Strictly the Best, Vol. 35 Track list
  1. Goodas - Tony Matterhorn
  2. Hot Wuk - Mr. Vegas
  3. All Out - Sean Paul
  4. Wine - Alaine
  5. Ukku - Idonia
  6. From Them Dis - Bounty Killer & Idonia
  7. No Badda Mi - Perfect
  8. Gash Them and Light Them - Chuck Fender
  9. Gangsta Guerilla - Mr.Peppa
  10. Bad Out Deh - Alozade
  11. How High - Movado
  12. Hits Pon Toppa Hits - Capleton
  13. Good Over Evil - Assassin
  14. Try Offa You - Buju Banton
  15. Hunting - Bounty Killer
  16. Hey - Courtney John & Jovi Rockwell
  17. Everybody Bounce - T.O.K.
  18. Sail On (Play Guitar) - Sizzla & K-Salaam
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Another year has passed and it is Christmas time again. That also means that it is time for another installment in VP's holiday season reggae music compilation series - Strictly The Best. STB is the longest running and a well established compilation series that contains the big and breakout hits of the year. Recently the STB series was split into two, allowing us one disc totally dedicated to dancehall music and another all about roots reggae.

STB Volume 35 is the dancehall offering, giving us eighteen top tracks of the year and some that should be big in 2007. The album kicks off with the recent Jamaican number one hit "Goodas" by Tony Matterhorn over Natural Bridge's excellent "Gully Slime"-riddim. Another well established name in dancehall is Clifford Smith a.k.a. Mr. vegas, who alongside Hottaball and Opal offers us the up-tempo "Hot Wuk" (with a new censored title), this tune has been riding high in the Jamaican top twenty tunes for a couple of weeks now. If you've read my review of Leftside and Esco's brilliant "Dem Time Deh"-riddim, then you'll already know that I can't get enough of tracks three and five on this compilation; namely Sean Paul's "All Out" and Idonia's slack ode to a lady "Ukku". Sitting snugly between those two tracks is Alaine, she contributes the tough "Wine" over Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett's "Sweat"-riddim, which hit big early this year. H20's "12 Gauge"-riddim is represented twice here in the form of the Bounty Killer and Idonia combination "From Them Dis" and the big Movado tune (some say a sequel to "Weh Dem A Do"), "How High". Alliance definitely scored big on the "12 Gauge" (I can't wait for their album in 2007). Michael 'DJ Liquid' Brissett's imprint H20, turns up again; when he provides the "Come Down"-riddim for Perfect's solid "No Badda Mi". The handcart bwoy delivers one of the strongest tunes on the disc, no contest. Riding the same riddim as Tony Matterhorn, Mr. Peppa's "Gangsta Guerilla" is another big tune of 2006, which after nine weeks on the Jamaican charts still hasn't vacated the top twenty. Another tune that graced the dizzy heights of the charts this year was Alozade's jewel in his crown, "Bad Out Deh" over the "Baddis Ting"-riddim was number one for a while, and is still getting requests in the dancehalls over here in the UK.

Capleton's selection comes from the well built (and loved by me) "Foundation"-riddim. This riddim was one of the Don Corleon's best this year and Capleton must have agreed, as he voiced it no fewer than three times. The big Jamaican chart topper for Capleton from the riddim was "Wha-Dis Wha-Dis", however VP decided to go with "Hits Pon Toppa Hits"; at first I thought this might have been a misstep, but with the tune steadily climbing the charts, it seems VP knew what they were doing. Assassin who has produced strong tunes in 2006, such as "She Want A Life" over the "Twice Again"-riddim, "Serious Ting" over Birch's incredible "Gangsta Rock"-riddim and "Roll" on Troyton Rami's "Blink"-riddim, contributes the okay but nothing more "Good Over Evil" over Dave 'the Rude Boy' Kelly's bass heavy "Stage Show"-riddim. Other high points include T.O.K. riding the superb "Inspector/Bounce"-riddim by DJ Karim on the party starter "Everybody Bounce", Buju Banton's "Try Offa You" (which also featured on his excellent "Too Bad" album this year) and the seemingly misplaced Chuck Fender hit "Gash Them and Light Them" (another track that rode high in the charts, over Jukeboxx's smooth "Confessions"-riddim). Another track that seems out of place on this compilation is the slick acoustic sound of Sizzla on "Sail On", this guitar led tune would have fit the vibe of STB Volume 36 much better. Filling out the set are the take it or leave tunes from Bounty Killer "Hunting" and Courtney John alongside Jovi on "Hey".

Overall, (despite a couple of odd selections) STB Vol. 35 is a solid album that pretty much reflects the strong year that dancehall music has had. VP have selected the best riddims they had on offer this year (but where is "Sidewalk University"?), plus those from Greensleeves, to make this an enjoyable compilation album and worthy purchase for the casual dancehall listener.