If Bob Marley is considered “The King of Reggae”, then Jimmy Cliff would be the “Crown Prince”. After all, Jimmy Cliff is sitting pretty in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the likes of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and the aforementioned Marley.
The Jamaican born reggae singer/songwriter became a mainstream name in the late 1960s and 70s with his albums Hard Road to Travel and his self-titled album that featured the hit single “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, which spawned the renaming of the album to that very name a year later.
Wonderful World, Beautiful People, is generally considered Cliff’s most successful album, featuring classic tracks, “Come Into My Life”, “Many Rivers To Cross” and the song called “Vietnam”, as well as the album’s title track. Whether it was Jimmy Cliff’s iconic singing, strumming the guitar, playing the piano, or even starring in and composing the soundtrack to the film The Harder They Come, Cliff is a jack-of-all-trades. The film’s album soon broke into the Billboard Top 200, bringing reggae music to an international audience.
With early success, the Grammy-winning Cliff didn’t stop after the release of The Harder They Come, releasing 24 subsequent albums including the early 2012 release of his Sacred Fire EP, which hit #1 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. And now, within the same year, Jimmy Cliff is prepared to release his 30th studio album titled, Rebirth on July 17th, 2012 via Universal Music Enterprises.
The album title might be viewed by some as appropriately named, but Cliff really never left the music scene. However, The L.A. Times stated, “Must See Music…Legendary reggae of ‘The Harder They Come’ fame teams with Operation Ivy and Rancid founder Tim Armstrong to celebrate the collision of roots reggae and punk rock.”
The two legendary performers, in their own right, never met before Joe Strummer of The Clash recommended the collaborative effort. The first song that the duo recorded was a rendition of Rancid’s hit “Ruby Soho” from the 1995 Rancid album titled, …And Out Come The Wolves, which will be featured on Jimmy Cliff’s upcoming album Rebirth.
As stated before, Rebirth is an interesting choice for the album title, but Cliff stated, “The album is about my rebirth as an artist and as a man, but also about the rebirth of the world,” says the man whose 1970 “Vietnam,” has been dubbed by Bob Dylan “the greatest protest song ever written.” Those strong social and political sentiments have not faded with time. On Cliff’s upcoming release, the opening track “World Upside Down” reinvigorates those feelings for the world today.
However, there are more personal songs, like “One More,” “Reggae Music” and “Our Ship is Sailing”, that grasp to the soul of Jimmy Cliff’s iconic music, and his own artistic revival.
Last year in an interview with Rolling Stone, Jimmy Cliff stated,
“I have not become the artist I believe I am…I’m not done at all.”
With his thirtieth release coming on July 17th, it will be intriguing to witness the continual progress of an already-inducted Hall of Famer ten-years from now. After two album releases in less than six months, could we all witness a fortieth release by then? In the meantime, fans will do what they always have done; go out and buy the album and sit back and listen to a legendary artist at work.
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Article By: Kris Siuta
-Read Kris’s Matisyahu & Jimmy Cliff Article on previous releases by clicking HERE
Video: Jimmy Cliff talking exclusively about Rebirth