5:02 PM GMT 17/05/2013
"Reggae can still change things," says Jimmy Cliff in the current issue of MOJO magazine and he is living proof. Before Bob Marley enjoyed serious success, it was Cliff who exposed the sounds of Jamaica to the wider world, through his records and his starring role in The Harder They Come - Perry Henzell's JA gangster movie and its accompanying soundtrack. In a career that spans 50 years, Cliff has remained an inspirational presence. Having just finished a new album, Re.Birth, with Rancid's Tim Armstrong producing, the man continues to look forward. "I want to be an international hero," the 64 year-old Cliff tells Lois Wilson in the current issue of MOJO. To us, he already is, and here's a few reasons why...
1. King Of Kings, 1964
Jimmy Cliff was 14 he he scored his first Jamaican hit with Hurricane Hattie in 1962. He was also a regular performer at the Sombrero Club in Kingston, the local ska hotbed where he performed alongside Prince Buster and Byron Lee And The Dragonaires. Wind on to 5.55 to catch an electrifying version of his '64 Jamaican smash, King Of Kings.
And for those of you seeking a few handy hints on how to dance to ska tunes, then look no further....
2. Give A Little, Take A Little, 1969
Island's Chris Blackwell heard the huge potential in Cliff's joyous vocals and enticed him to the UK to record. Mainland Europe was in fact quicker to embrace Jimmy, as this appearance on German TV programme Beat Club proves - the four Beatles gazing down approvingly and in photographic form on Jamaica's rising star.
3. Wonderful World, Beautiful People, 1970
Not everyone in Europe loved reggae's broken rhythms, as this performance in front of an audience of dickie-bowed squares at MIDEM, the annual Cannes music biz bash, illustrates. And are those backing singers or secretaries shuffling paper behind JC?
4. Vietnam, 1970
As this conceptual video notes, War sucks!!! Jimmy underlines it with one of the greatest protest songs ever.
5. Wild World, 1970
"I felt an affinity with Cat Stevens. They [Island] marketed him as rock and, like me, he was more than that," says Cliff, reflecting on his labelmate and the writer of this tune. The pair collaborated on this arrangement, leading to a worldwide smash.
6. The Harder They Come, 1972
This trailer to Perry Henzell's classic movie with Cliff cast in the leading role of rude boy outlaw Ivanhoe Martin has it all: freewheeling bike action, weed, fire, beachside fun... and drama - all set to one of Cliff's most arresting tunes.
7. Goodbye Yesterday, 1972
The perils of cheesy '70s pop telly underlined as Cliff treads the boards as a post-Harder... global superstar. Still, better than that MIDEM crowd, and a top tune.
8. Fundamental Reggay, 1975
Jimmy Cliff? "Master of song, keeper of rhythm... a true innovator," says 'the man with the golden ear', Don Kirshner. This performance live in Santa Monica introduced by the late DK proves he's not wrong...
9. Wanted Man, 1977
TV director and writer Jeremy Marre's 1977 documentary Roots Rock Reggae provided genuine insight into Jamaican music during one of the most turbulent periods in the island's history. Alongside Bob Marley, The Abyssinians and Jacob Miller, Jimmy Cliff asserts his independence: "I don't want a' be the pawn on the chess board..."
10. Trapped, 1989
In the new issue of MOJO Cliff agrees that this tune - taken from 1989's Images album and performed here on the David Letterman Show - was in part inspired by the souring relationship with Island Records. It also relates on a more personal level to "relationships I have had in the past."
Elsewhere, Bruce Springsteen translated the track into something a little more epic...
11. One More, 2012
Cliff's unsapped vigour and energy shine through this performance at the Coachella festival on April 13. Fine voice, finer wardrobe. Gold, after all, does not suit us all...
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 12:34 PM GMT 28/05/2012