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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

BUJU BANTON

By JUDSON KILPATRICK
Published May 5, 2006

Friends For Life
Penthouse/VP/Atlantic

Continuing as the leading light of today’s conscious reggae scene, Gargamel upholds Bob Marley’s protest/inspire tradition with the Nyabinghi-spiced “Up Ye Mighty People,” does a spirited remake of Peter Tosh’s “Mama Africa” and includes a snippet of a Marcus Garvey speech. Despite excellent production and appearances by Jamaica’s finest musicians, Friends For Life doesn’t touch the perfection of ’Til Shiloh. On the plus side are mid-tempo love jam “Pensive Mood” and anti-gun “Mr. Nine,” the latter adapting Gregory Isaacs’ “Tune In.” Banton returns to the heavy-rhythm dancehall stylee of youth on “Hooked On Love” and “Spectacular,” and guests include longtime duet partners Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond, though less successful. Better is his pairing with Nadine Sutherland on “What Am I Gonna Do” and the peppy back-and-forth alongside Bounty Killer on “Teaser.” Throw in an acoustic vocal showcase and there’s enough here to recommend it.