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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

REGGAE ON THE RIVER: LIVE

By Judson Kilpatrick

RAS/Sanctuary

Begun as a community fundraiser 20 years ago, this northern California festival features some of the biggest names in reggae. This 2003 recording gathers together 13 highlights from the three-day event (there's also a DVD). Anthony B kicks off the socially aware festivities with his dancehall classic "Raid The Barn." The ultra-tight band also fires up Beres Hammond's hits "She Loves Me Now" and "Step Aside." The older guard is represented by Toots and the Maytals ("54-46 Was My Number"), Third World (an epic, eight-minute "96 Degrees In The Shade") and Culture (lighting up "International Herb"). Michael Franti raps his frantic anti-war rant "We Don't Stop" while Ben Harper is surprisingly energetic on "With My Own Two Hands." There are also many Marley associates in the house: Bob's sons Damian and Stephen contribute "It Was Written (Book Of Life)," Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths do a stirring version of "Redemption Song," and Damian closes with "Mr. Marley." Overall, these well-recorded performances have far more get-outta-your-seat verve than their studio counterparts.