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JIMMY CLIFF (1948 - )


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1969 - Trojan - studio - discs:1

In 1969 the young Jimmy Cliff cut a masterpiece set: the omonimous LP "Jimmy Cliff". Here we are to comment this extended re-release from Trojan that contains the original set (eleven tracks) plus fourteen bonus songs. Cliff was born in 1948 in the Parish of St. Catherine. In 1960 his family moved to Kingston and the young Jimmy grow up under the influence of the traditional Jamaican Mento and the American Rhythm & Blues. In 1962, the fourteen years old Jimmy auditioned at a session held by the Sound System operator Count Boysie. The latter was immediately impressed by this young singer and brought him to Federal Studios to cut a song called "Daisy Got Me Crazy". The single was Jimmy's debut, but it failed to get any success. Jimmy turned to some Sir Cavalier which produced his second single: "I'm Sorry". No success again, but Jimmy did not give up. He convinced Leslie Kong (not yet in the music business) that he had something interesting. Kong produced "Dearest Beverly", "Hurricane Hattie" and "Miss Jamaica". Three straight hits. Kong became a producer and Cliff an artist to keep an eye on. Subsequently three other hits followed: "Man To Man", "One-Eyed Jack" and "King Of Kings". During 1963 Cliff did not release any single intentionally and came back to the recording studio in 1964. In 1964 Edward Seaga sent Cliff along with Byron Lee & The Dragonaries to the New York based World's Fair to promote Jamaica. Approached by Chris Blackwell, Cliff went to meet him in England in early 1965. He toured Europe and in 1967 he had some success with "Give And Take". Blackwell's Island label released Cliff's debut set in 1968: "Hard Road To Travel". He toured Brazil and other South America countries and in the meanwhile the real first hit was released: "Wonderful World, Beautiful People". "Jimmy Cliff", a collection of previous hits, was released in autumn 1969. The British press understood that there was quite more than mere folk stuff and expressed its appreciation. This set was a success. In 1972 Cliff played the hero, Ivan, in the Perry Henzell movie "The Harder They Come"; the first production to show the world what was living in Kingston. After that Cliff never reached again the top. The original album is a quite good one. Some of the remaining tracks are interesting but not all of them. It is better to skip some and concentrate on the real good ones, which are not many, actually. Cliff sounds a bit monotonous, as the there is not a particular searching work for something new from the musical point of view. When something new is reached the sound is american Soul - Pop mainstream oriented and it is better skip it (for example listen to "Pack Up Hang Up": this is not resembling any form of Reggae at all). What often is interesting are the lyrics. Of course Cliff delivered some top classics in Jamaican music. The most part of these are in the original "Jimmy Cliff" set but not in the bonus tracks (with the exemption of great songs as "You Can Get It If You Really Want", "Dreaming" and the alternate take of "Hard Road To Travel"). The most interesting tracks from the original set are: the stellar "Many Rivers To Cross", "Vietnam", "Hard Road To Travel" and "Hello Sunshine". Cliff is able to make a half surprise with "Bongo Man", a Nyahbingi based track (?!) that mixes inside itself a Soul - Gospel atmosphere; but it starts well and proceedes badly. The original set deserves three and a half stars, since it contains some top material. The rest, ...well, it is far lower. As unfortunately happened during Cliff following career, the hights were only occasionally reached. That's it.

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yardie-reggae.com - 2007