I have great respect for what we did, and what other people have done – Jimmy Cliff
With a legacy stretching back nearly 50 years, the Honourable Jimmy Cliff is still standing as one of the prime movers and continuing shapers of modern music. With a catalogue that ranks amongst the most influential in Global culture, Cliff remains a forceful voice of power and conscience, creating new music as vital and vibrant as ever. Teamed with producer Tim Armstrong – the Rancid front man who has cited Cliff as his most admired artist – Cliff is working on his first new album in seven years, a set which builds on his unparalleled history and points to a wide-open future.
The power and promise of the pairing jumped out from a five-song EP previewing the album. Together they bring fire to both compelling Cliff originals and a couple of pointedly chosen covers. ‘World is Spinning’ and the steely ‘One More’ show an artist as engaged with, and troubled by the state of the world today. He made such landmark songs as ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ and the title song of the movie The Harder They Come, both game-changers that marked their 40th anniversary in 2012.
You can get it if you really want
A version of the Clash’s The Guns of Brixton taps into the popular uprisings for freedom in the Middle East, not to mention the recent London riots, which took place as sessions for the album were underway. Rancid’s affectionate portrait Ruby Soho brings the generations together, a full-circle journey of icon and acolytes. The two also teamed on a forceful interpretation of Bob Dylan’s generation-defining – and generation-crossing ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’.
It comes at a time in which Cliff’s legend has only grown, reaching new ears from many tastes and walks of life. Paul Simon featured Cliff’s 1970 song ‘Vietnam’ in his electrifying 2011 concerts. Simon introduced the song, which Dylan had called the greatest
protest song ever written, as having inspired him to head to Jamaica and record Mother and Child Reunion with Cliff’s band. Cliff himself has in recent years revived and revised the song to address the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bridging his past and present.
Jimmy Cliff is the only living musician honored with Jamaica’s Order of Merit and a 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. “At the same time, I am always looking for the new.”
This maestro of music has been sought out as a collaborator by artists ranging from the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello to Annie Lennox, while Willie Nelson, Cher, New Order, Jerry Garcia and Fiona Apple are among the many who have performed and recorded his material.
His song ‘Trapped’ reached a vast new audience in the 1980’s when Bruce Springsteen performed it regularly and contributed his version to the 1985 mega-hit charity album We Are the World. In 1993, Cliff returned to the mainstream pop charts in he US with his version of Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now. “The music was fresh and this introduced it to the world,” he says. “A few countries had been hearing it, but this is where it all came from.”
“It captured a moment in time, but had lasting quality.”
With his new music, Jimmy Cliff has done exactly that again!
“Wonderful World, Beautiful people!”
Check out his London concert dates in the UK Fri, 7 Aug 2015 @indigo 02
PhotoCredit: The Howard Theatre