CD Review: Strictly Steady

Each and every year (with the exception of one in recent memory) we get treated to some of the most comprehensive, unique and wonderful compilations on the market as reggae fans. Just one trip to your local record store will reveal that reggae houses love releasing compilations, be it because there aren't as many solidified artists who can push an album worldwide from this tiny island or maybe they just love compilations as much as we do; regardless, the reggae shelves are overflowing with a steady diet of mixed artists.

One of the most comprehensive, unique and most wonderful is without a doubt the Strictly the Best compilations. Besides ALWAYS being in a beautiful packaging and standing out from that overflowing shelf, musically it covers a range that no one covers on one compilation. And it always comes in two's, giving the consumer the choice of one or both lover's rock/roots or dancehall.

But typically the lover's rock edition is better.

This year is no different with the word I can best use to describe the lover's rock edition (#36) is 'solid', the word best used to desribe its more outgoing dancehall sister is probably 'steady'. StB #35 suffers ever so slightly from hardly doing anything spectacular, and when it does, it leaves you thinking that the particular track or tracks might belong better on its sister.

There are nice nice songs here, perhaps the album's best dancehall track is Good Over Evil by the young veteran Assassin (would have loved Gully Sitten here tho, hopefully they're saving that one for his album next year), over Dave Kelly's Stage Show riddim, with 'Sassin showing a wicked level of consistency on his recent releases (and I'm still predicting that someday the dancehall game will be his and his alone). Check Sean Paul absolutely locking the flow on his best song in a while the brilliant All Out over the Dem Time Deh riddim; young superstar Idonia also taking on the DtD riddim with his nice and slack Ukku; I'll also give Matterhorn his respect with his best tne that I've heard from the soundman, Goodas over the Gully Slime but the ever improving Mr Peppa ultimately pushes the GS to its limit with his well powerful Gangsta Guerilla.

All that being said, the best song on StB#35 is Nah Bodda Mi by St. Anns (BIGGUP ALL ST ANN'S MASSIVE! myself included) native Perfect. Love Nah Badda Mi, the song is Perfect at his best absolutely losing it over teh course of the song, still getting his point across. Of course you have to check the ridiculously nice Alaine over the Sweat riddim on Wine, one of the best cuts on that riddim and the high-powered combination From Dem Dis with Bounty Killa and Idonia, definitely worth checking several times.

The end gets a little weird however with the ultra talented Jovi Rockwell combining with Courtney John of Fiwi on the annoyingly odd Hey, I like Rockwell and will definitely keep an eye on Jamaica's Nelly Furtado in the future however. Also Sizzla's Sail On with K-Salaam. . . I like this track, I really like this track, however, it has virtually no place on this album and as the last track on the album almost seems like an 'oh we forgot to put a Kalonji track on the album' type of situation. Also mixed in there is a status quo wholly average Everybody Bounce by TOK and Chuck Fenda's nice but already well worn Gash Dem.

Overall, well overall, I'm kind of confused by StB#35, especially at it's end. However, I will recommend this one perhaps to not so keen fans of the music but fans who are truly FANS. You almost have to be a reggae fan to appreciate this one which is not what I would say about too many of the dancehall editions of StB, but this one goes so many places in its 18 tracks, but never really leaves home. So this one is Strictly for reggae fans.

Bramoi for Trini Jungle Juice


Strictly the Best 35 - Various Artists (VP Records)
Release Date: Nov 21st 2006

Track Listings
01. Goodas - Tony Matterhorn
02. Hot Wuk - Mr. Vegas
03. All Out - Sean Paul
04. Wine - Alaine
05. Ukku - Idonia
06. From Them Dis - Bounty Killer & Idonia
07. No Badda Mi - Perfect
08. Gash Dem And Light Them - Chuck Fender
09. 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 Featuring Jovi Rockwell
17. Everybody Bounce - T.O.K.
18. Sail On (Play Guitar) - Sizzla Featuring K-Salaam