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on July 20, 2012
For the past couple of decades, Jimmy Cliff hasn't made a full album that has been salient to me... As one of the Kings of Reggae's heyday he is one of the last standing. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh are long gone... and nothing truly compared to the dancehall/rocksteady music that Jimmy Cliff had done when he starred in 1972's The Harder They Come (The Criterion Collection). Happily, this attempt by Rancid's Tim Armstrong (as producer) to rekindle the feel of Jimmy's origins is a stellar success.

Every cut has a nod to what Jimmy had done best in the past. The vintage feel of this recording is enhanced by the simple lead-ins of Keyboard or Drums at the front of the tunes--as happened in early Reggae. That said the production values and backing musicians are wonderful-- they are called called Engine Room. Just a sampling of the backing crew? The gents playing with Jimmy Cliff are musicians such as Scott Abels from Hepcat (he plays with amazing authenticity--but adds current riffs,) Tim Armstrong from Rancid (his guitar is a wonder on this album), and Dan Boer of Cypress Hill fame does the keyboards proud. None of the band upstages Cliff. They are so tight and so well mixed that the album itself could become one of your test records if you are buying equipment and listening to various great productions to audiophile standards. Audiophile or not--this is an album that has impressive sonic quality.

The songs?

Children's Lament and World Is Upside Down touch upon Cliff's early sociopolitical content--as his tune Vietnam did previously.

His punchier tunes are dead-on with Bang and One More and bring the feel of songs like The Harder They Come.

Blessed Love, Outsider, and Reggae Music are uptempo vintage-feel gems ala You Can Get It If You Really Want.

And the covers?
It is exceptionally fun to have Jimmy Cliff singing about himself (as Ivanhoe--yes, Ivan as the Clash mention The Harder They Come lyrically) in the Clash's Guns of Brixton.
And then there is the Rancid tune Ruby Soho. It's a brilliant move and a big risk that was pulled off with aplomb by Tim and Jimmy.

All in this is an album to own and replay and to put on your list of "Best of's" in the Reggae Genre.
It may even be aptly titled.
We'll see in the next couple of albums by Mr. Cliff.

But in the meantime, we can celebrate this wonderfully produced piece that both reaches back and stands on its own today.
Buy it. Tell people about it. Play it for them. It is a heck of a CD.
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on March 12, 2016
Wow! Did I stumble upon some newly-discovered unreleased gems from the 1970s? No, this is indeed a set of 2012 recordings, with Jimmy Cliff making a triumphant return to his reggae roots. Of course, I enjoyed all of Cliff's '70s albums - The Harder They Come is essential and Wonderful World, Beautiful People may just be the best album I own, of any genre. Come the '80s, I began to lose interest. I'm not one of those people who always believes that an artist's "old" stuff is his best, but Cliff had moved away from reggae and more into electropop and funk, which is fine, but not necessarily what I'm into.

With this one, Cliff is back, the way I like him. For me, when Cliff is delivering roots reggae, angry about injustice and inequality, fighting back through his music, nobody in reggae, not even Bob Marley, was ever better. The tempo never slows down throughout the album. Nobody else can manage to tackle these themes in a way that makes you want to dance, as he does with "World Upside Down," "One More," or "Children's Bread," sounding every bit as angry as a younger Cliff did on classics like "The Harder They Come" or "Viet Nam."

"Guns of Brixton" is a notable cover of the Clash's tune about the character Cliff played in The Harder They Come, bringing his career full circle, which is then summarized on the next track, "Reggae Music," spoken as much as sung, starting with 1962, ska, and The Harder They Come, and name-dropping Leslie Kong, Winston Wright, Jackie Jackson, and Winston Brown. The story of Cliff and reggae is pretty stunning when packed into one song.

The lone departure from this reggae feast is the soul-influenced "Outsider" with a horn section that really packs a punch. "Blessed Love" and "Ship Is Sailing" are positive, upbeat tunes, reminiscent of earlier songs like "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" or "Hello Sunshine," before closing with a blistering alternate take of "One More." All in all, this one is a classic. Not a single weak track or forgettable melody to speak of. Turn up the volume. Reggae music gonna make you feel all right now!
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on June 21, 2017
Great product and service
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on August 24, 2012
While I am not a real Rastaman, I do recognize a great album in the genre.

Cliff has returned to what he helped create, and in fine form. The only possible knock is that it doesn't push the envelope much and purists may not enjoy the cover tunes, but if anyone is entitled to ride the waive of 60's style Jamaica reggae it is this man.

The album feels so fresh, yet has a timeless quality that would make you wonder if you had maybe heard these songs on that trip to St. Croix 12 years ago.

The song writing shows that he is connected with the current socio-economic situation in this new century, but never preaches. I think that occasional vague hints of punk rock give it a contemporary and earthy edge.

If you like the Clash, Bob Marley, or the Specials-- this is a must buy 2012 releases.
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on February 16, 2013
Haven't had a reggae album grab me like this one did since Buju Baton's Before the Dawn. All the tunes have a great hook, beat, and message and what more can you ask for? I won't waste your time reading a deep analysis of style, roots, etc. and just say this had all my friends feeling good and singing along first listen. No offense to Toots, Ziggy, and Stephen - I've got all your recent stuff, and there's good on every album, but Rebirth is all good. If you get one raggae album this year, this should be the one.
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on March 9, 2013
Ska and reggae mixed together with Jimmy Cliff on top! This is an amazing release for someone who hasn't been heard from in a while. I saw a couple live versions on the various late night shows, and I just had to buy this. Every track is a winner. A great record to jump around and dance by yourself to. Essential !
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on September 13, 2012
I am not a huge reggae fan...the extent would be some Bob Marley (and Sublime if you want to consider strong reggae influences)...but I thoroughly enjoy this album. The first time I popped it into my CD player I listened all the way through and thought it was very good. Now everytime I listen to it, it grows on me even more. Great addition to any music collection, and something I will listen to many many times over the next few months/years. It just gives you a good feeling.
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on October 15, 2013
I recommend it. It is better than I thought it would be. I only previewed a few songs and was pleasantly surprised that the whole album is good and in typical Jimmy Cliff fashion. I am also a fan of Tim Armstrong so this colaboration has a lot I like. You won't regret the purchase and a lot of these songs potentially have a long shelf life. Good job Timmy & Jimmy! ONE MORE!!!
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on September 10, 2012
I don't ever listen to reggae music, ever. This is the best album of the year and is probably the best reggae album I've ever heard. Again, I'm a rock guy, this blows away all my rock records this year. Shipped super fast. Thanks!
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on September 10, 2012
After too many forgettable Jimmy Cliff crossover, poppy albums, this one gets back to where it all started. It sounds as if it could have been released from Kingston,around the early 70's. Classic Jimmy Cliff. A sometimes overlooked master, gets back to his ska, rock steady, reggae roots. It's the real deal.
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