Reggae Gold 2010
VP's reliable Reggae Gold series doesn't slip with its 2010 volume, but there are a couple of surprising, maybe even polarizing, curveballs. In keeping with the internationally themed cover art -- "honoring" the 2010 World Cup -- this time tracks from outside Jamaica and the surrounding islands are included, with Michael Franti representing the American jam band-strain of reggae while Major Lazer comes from the world of crazed, dancehall-influenced indie electronica. Purist arguments aside, both cuts are crucial, as is the genre-bridging "As We Enter" from Damian Marley and rapper Nas. No surprise, then, that the more traditional selections are all winners with Gyptian's comeback ballad "Hold You" proudly sitting on top. Check the Commodores-quoting "Sweet Love (Night Shift)" for the usually aggressive Busy Signal at his pillow-talk best, or if you prefer a romance ballad from the roots side, you couldn't do much better than Tarrus Riley and his "Love's Contagious." With Etana, Sean Paul, Koshens, and Beres Hammond all delivering prime numbers on the slow slide, the set places dancehall as a distant third behind roots and lovers rock, but the aggressive genre could ride the whole of 2010 on "Clarks" alone, with Shaggy and Mavado's strong tracks vying for second behind Vybz Kartel's infectious masterpiece. Reggae Gold regulars should anticipate a more chilled tempo and more diversity than ever, along with the usual high quality control. Casual fans without the Gyptian, Riley, and Kartel cuts in their collection get to pick up 2010's holy trinity in one fell swoop. It's a win either way.