Review by Jason Kuncas
8 Years Since This Reggae Legend Has Put Out An Album
and He is Better Than Ever….
Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth
Imagine the island sounds of Jamaican roots set to the upbeat ska and punk sounds from California’s East Bay. Jimmy Cliff’s “Rebirth” has captured both these sounds in the June 2012 release. This album is produced by East Bay ska legend, Tim Armstrong. Armstrong achieved musical notoriety in the Punk band “Rancid“. The collaboration of these two musical icons has created an album with vintage sounding ska, reggae and punk themes.
Jimmy Cliff started his career singing about the difficult Jamaican street life of the early 1970’s. Social consciousness influenced Cliff to record “Vietnam” in 1970, a song Bob Dylan said was the best anti-war protest song he had ever heard. Later, Cliff would record “I Can See Clearly Now” and “Wild World “, winning Grammy’s in multiple decades. In 2010, He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The man born, James Chambers, an international musical celebrity for over thirty years was not finished. ‘Rebirth’ is a look back at roots reggae as well as a step forward in the career of Cliff. In other words, Jimmy Cliff didn’t ever need to make another record again to solidify his legacy and importance in the reggae world, but he did.
Cliff could not have picked a better producer than Armstrong. The album has an energized rock sound that comes from the California East Bay Punk scene of the 80’s and 90’s. Armstrong said of Cliff’s live performance “Whether it is playing in front of three people or 30,000, he’s bringing’ it!”
Cliff elaborates on the musical hybrid sound and the meeting of the two superstars. First of all, I was introduced to Tim’s music via Joe Strummer of The Clash, whom I recorded one song with on the last album that I did “Over the Border” from 2004’s Black Magic. When his suggestion came to work with Tim, I jumped at the idea, because of the fact that punk music was influenced and inspired by reggae music. They address the same political and social issues. And then when I first met Tim, it made things seem more right. It was the right move to make. It was so easy to work with him. First of all, he’s a reggae connoisseur. He has so much knowledge of reggae, something that I kind of overlook myself. He made me realize that, you know, there is great value in these things.”
Review by Jason Kuncas