Strictly The Best: Vol. 35 & 36

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Strictly The Best: Vol. 35 & 36Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bella Kiz

Distributed at the turn of each New Year, Strictly the Best, VP Records' infamous reggae compilation is back and has hit 2007 with a double-disc offering in Strictly The Best Vol. 35 & 36 (VP/Universal). Like previous releases, both consecutive volumes have something unique to offer to the listener, encompassing Reggae riddims that span from Dancehall (Vol. 35) to Roots n'Rock (Vol. 36).

Volume 35 is a mixture of classic reggae artists such as Buju Banton, whose "Try Offa You" is a long unfamiliar dancehall track mixed into a Bounty Killer song that makes you go "Hunting" for some better rhythms. In the same wave, seasoned artists like Sean Paul attempt to get listeners to go "All Out" with a song that is far from being his best cut. T.O.K. emerges with their high-energized upcoming single that's sure to make you "Bounce" when you hear it. The songs that stand out the most are sprinkled in the beginning of the CD, from artists Tony Matterhorn with his hit, "Goodas" that has topped Reggae charts for weeks. Mr. Vegas "Hot Wuk" will put you in the mood to "Wine" to Alaine's tantalizing lyrics. The most acclaimed Dancehall mega hit "Ukku" by Idonia fully represents the caliber of Strictly The Best Dancehall.

Volume 36 is a sultry combination of love songs encapsulating top Roots n'Rock artists. From beginning to end listeners experience passionate sounds of soft, melodic rhythms that inspire "Love & Affection" by Wayne Wonder or that take you back to the time of "Old Skool Love," a remix by Divine Brown. With the first track, listeners can predict that this volume is definitely memorable. This winning compilation creates an extraordinary journey for lovers to ponder over Jah Cure's "What Will It Take," echoed by Tarrus Riley's "Stay With You." After listening straight though Volume 36, I Wayne sets the mood to spread "Life Seeds" of your own at the end. Other prominent Reggae artists found on this CD include, Richie Spice ("Brown Skin”), Mr. Vegas ("Do You Know”), and Alaine ("Deeper”). The romantic stimulation keeps building throughout this volume making it a perfect compilation that can be enjoyed over and over again.

Conveniently, each volume is sold separately giving the listener an opportunity to choose between the two discs based on their Reggae tastes. For hardcore Dancehall lovers Volume 35 may lack that extra flavor. For those with a flavor for love, Volume 36 is "strictly the best" that roots and lover's rock has to offer.