Various Reggae on the River: The 10th Anniversary

Reggae on the River is an American reggae institution  the annual festival takes place in Garberville, CA, and draws massive crowds to hear the biggest names in contemporary reggae and world music. This album is the commemorative tenth anniversary double-CD and features artists from the U.S., Haiti, Senegal and, of course, Jamaica. Most of Reggae on the River is sheer candy for reggae lovers. To hear heavyweights like Africa's Lucky Dube, or the Wailing Souls, in a live setting gives their bands a chance to show off, with drummers making liberal use of timbales and lightening high-hat fills, and bassists literally pulling the listeners' feet off the ground with their bouncy and repetitive melodies. The focus on world musicians working in a reggae climate is one of the pillars of the album. Baaba Maal's talking drum introduction to "Yelle Jam" and Ismael Lo's "Raciste" thankfully stretch the definition of reggae beyond the weary clichés still practiced by many of the genre’s elite  embodied here in Sister Carol's ill-conceived cover of "Wild Thing" on the second disc, or Jimmy Cliff's hapless bid of environmental concern in "Save Our Planet Earth." Slight bumps aside, the anniversary instalment of Reggae on the River has plenty of rub-a-dub action and there’s no doubt that its energy quota and line-up will have reggae fans booking a flight to Garberville, CA, for 2003. (EarthBeat!)