Strictly The Best turns 50

BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer Writer

Sunday, November 02, 2014

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STRICTLY The Best, possibly the longest running compilation album in reggae, marks a milestone on November 25. VP Records will release Volumes 50 and 51 of the series. As usual, it showcases some of the most popular dancehall songs of the year as well as classic hits from the Queens, New York label's vaults.

Strictly The Best was first released in 1990. Volumes 1 and 2 featured hits from Foxy Brown, Shabba Ranks and Krystal, Singing Melody, Freddie McGregor, Little Lenny, Johnny Osbourne, Reggie Stepper, Red Dragon, Ninja Man, Ini Kamoze, Frankie Paul and Barrington Levy, among others.

The compilation was an instant success. It only became a hit in the Big Apple's massive Jamaican and West Indian communities but helped introduce the biggest hits out of Jamaica to the city's growing hip-hop audience.

Strictly The Best also launched VP as a competitive independent label which was later sought by major labels including Elektra and Atlantic records to help market their reggae acts.

Volume 50 is a double disc of reggae hits. Disc 1 contains 16 current hits while Disc 2 has 12 reggae hits from 1979 to 2008.

Among the tracks featured on Disc 1 are Real Know Real by D Major, Steppin Razor by Christopher Martin, Trigger (Etana), Cool Runnings (Duane Stephenson), Stay With Me (Romain Virgo), Ugly Girl (Ikaya), Gravity (Maxi Priest), Love is Not Blind (Queen Ifrica) and Ride Di Riddim (Shuga).

Disc 2 features Keep on Knocking by Jacob Miller, Sitting and Watching (Dennis Brown), Big Ship (Freddie McGregor), Tempted to Touch (Beres Hammond), Greetings (Half Pint), Lost My Sonia (Cocoa Tea), Kingly Character (Garnet Silk), Praise Him (Sanchez), I am Not Afraid (Etana), She's Royal (Tarrus Riley) and Sweep Over My Soul (Luciano).

Volume 51's list include Who Rule ( Latty J and Mr Vegas), Good Book (Demarco), Hero (Tommy Lee Sparta), Come on To Me (Major Lazer featuring Sean Paul), and Money Flow by Busy Signal.

Among the the classic dancehall songs on Disc 2 are Wah Do Dem by Eek-a-Mouse, Arlene (General Echo), My Woman (Barrington Levy), Girlie Girlie (Sophia George) and Tiger's breakthrough hit, Wanga Gut.

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