Top positive review
38 people found this helpful
Four Decades In-- Jimmy Cliff Finds His Feel Again!
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.
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.