Strictly The Best Vol. 39
December 5, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Every year, just in time for the festive season, VP Records used to release their "Strictly The Best" albums,
two volumes, to 'compete' with Greensleeves Records' "The Biggest Reggae One Drop Anthems" and
"The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems" for the reggae massive's attention. But, as VP Records
decided not be it's own (i.e. Greensleeves) biggest competitor, unfortunately no "Biggest Ragga
Dancehall Anthems" this year and just one sole volume of "Strictly The Best" squeezing the formerly
separatedly released dancehall and roots editions to one disc. Elephant Man kicks it off with "Nuh Linga"
across the 'Look Gal'-riddim from Assassin's Boardhouse Records. The 'Look Gal' a.k.a. 'Nuh
Linga'-riddim saw major success in the dancehall and beyond as the dance "Nuh Linga" was performed
by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt after his record-breaking victory in the 100 metre finals at the 2008 Beijing
The next tune is the very strong "Back It Up" over Truck Back Records' soca-tinged 'Gearbox'-riddim, a magnificent Sean Paul - Mr. Evil combination on which Sean Paul again proves that he is one of the best DJs (in the studio) in the hardcore dancehall scene, followed by Serani with "Playing Games" a.k.a. "No Games" over Linton 'TJ' White's on Dave Kelly's 'Showtime' based 'Unfinished Business'-riddim. Beenie Man delivers the extremely infectious "Gimmie Likkle" a.k.a. "Pickney Nah Hold Yuh Dung", recorded for London's Bornso Records over the eponymous 'Bornso'-riddim with again a big soca influence alongside labelowner Marcia 'Sexy P' Prince, before "Sweep" is Elephant Man's second tune on this compilation, over the 'Self Defence'-riddim, Cordel 'Skatta' Burrell's own update of his own in 2002 for Kings Of Kings produced 'Martial Arts'-riddim.
Mr. Vegas' huge "Mus Come a Road" is the brilliant (farewell?) combination of the popular singjay alongside Barrington Levy, built on the latter's classic "Prison Oval Rock," produced by NYC hip hop, R&B and reggae producer Stanley 'Rellee' Hayden for his A-Team Music Group followed by the two biggest tunes on this year's "Strictly The Best Volume 39", two sufferer's tunes, "Overcome" recorded by the 'Gully God' Movado for Stephen 'Di Genius' McGregor's Big Ship Music across his 'Brighter Day'-riddim and Konshens, still forming Sojah together with his older brother Delus, delivering his huge hit "Winner" recorded for Mark Pinnock of Natural Bridge and the Mitchell brothers of the Cash Flow Family. Demarco excels closing this first dancehall segment over the great hardcore dancehall 'Warning'-riddim - produced by Juke Boxx' Shane Brown and laid by Shane & Demarco together - with the strong "Sort Dem Out".
And as this - unlike earlier years suddenly not one volume with dancehall tunes and one volume with roots and lovers tunes - is a one disc "Strictly The Best" for 2008, the switch to lovers rock and roots singers is made at this point and for some strange reason with the brilliant self- and Jah-confident "I Am Not Afraid over No Doubt Records' 'Rub-A-Dub'-riddim by Etana, a very strong but far too well known and often anthologized song being the first entry in this segment, followed by veteran Tony Rebel, who truly shines with the great "Another Bill Again" about the cost of living getting higher (in Jamaica, but appropriate worldwide these days) for Donovan Germain's seemingly truly revived Penthouse Records and Tarrus Riley, who sees the bonus track from his re-released (on VP) first album "Challenges" across Dean Fraser's 'August Town' a.k.a. 'Jah Live' riddim included, the very strong "Love Created I (Marcus Teachings)".
Australian soft rock duo Air Supply will never have guessed that 23 years later their "Just As I Am" would be reggaefied, but it's done here brilliantly by Lukie D, Thriller U, Singing Melody and Tony Curtis a.k.a. L.U.S.T. before Beres Hammond delivers the beautiful "Love You Like That" over the wonderful 'Venus'-riddim by Stephen 'Lenky' Marsden. And Tessanne Chin impresses here (as her song is not too much rock-oriented for my taste) with "Broken Melody" over Kurt Riley's 'Golden Gate'-riddim followed by CéCile's very strong "Ride Or Die" across Delmar 'Della Danger' Drummond's 'Journey'-riddim on Dangerzone. And then it's back to the hardcore dancehall sounds for the last tune on which Shawn 'S.S.M.G.' Scott's produced atypical "Tic Toc" with its Asian hip-hop style of riddim and Busy Signal delivering his lyrics US-rap styled.
The balance is, I miss two separate volumes (more tunes, more adventurous selection) of "Strictly The Best" and can't cope with having to give up "The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems" from Greensleeves, but that being said, this is a very strong compilation for the more occasional reggae and dancehall buyer. For the true dancehall heads it's gonna be a little while till "Ragga Ragga Ragga 2009" is dropped. But if you don't own the majority of tunes on "Strictly The Best Volume 39" it is wholeheartedly recommended.