Various Reggae on the River: 20 Years Strong

Last year one of the best known and loved reggae festivals — Reggae on the River — issued an album with tracks recorded at their 1994 tenth anniversary. This has been followed up by a 20th anniversary double CD that pales in comparison. Unlike its live predecessor, 20 Years Strong is a compilation of studio tracks from 18 of the festival's headliners leaving us wondering if someone forgot to press records for those other 19 years of performances. With this in mind 20 Years represents a decent barometer of what was successful in the North American reggae market over the last two decades. Marquee-ready names like Luciano, Sizzla, Capleton, Beres Hammond and Morgan Heritage deliver some of their best and, of course, the golden oldies that never stopped touring (Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Judy Mowatt, Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals) weigh in with fairly well known material. This certainly isn't the best reggae compilation you can buy but there are a few twists — hints of the actual diverse nature of the festival, like tracks by David Lindley and Michael Franti. (EarthBeat!)