Jimmy Cliff - Rebirth (Cover Artwork)

Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff: RebirthRebirth (2012)
Universal Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Sacred Fire was just the beginning; with Rebirth, Jimmy Cliff has launched a full-on comeback. Much like that limited edition EP, Rebirth finds the reggae icon returning to his earliest roots. Cliff has said that this record offered him a chance to revisit the roots reggae of his self-titled 1969 al.
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Sacred Fire was just the beginning; with Rebirth, Jimmy Cliff has launched a full-on comeback. Much like that limited edition EP, Rebirth finds the reggae icon returning to his earliest roots. Cliff has said that this record offered him a chance to revisit the roots reggae of his self-titled 1969 album. That's a heck of a journey through time, but with a production assist from Rancid's Tim Armstrong, it comes off quite naturally.

Cliff's last album, 2004's Black Magic, found the singer utilizing a lot of electronic studio creations. It wasn't bad, but it lacked the organic feel of his best work. Armstrong, himself a reggae fanatic, instead helps Cliff return to roots reggae with retro-minded production. If anything, it's closer in spirit to Armstrong's own A Poet's Life than Cliff's last few releases.

Sacred Fire shows up, mostly, with Cliff's covers of the Clash's "Guns of Brixton" and Rancid's "Ruby Soho," as well as originals "World is Upside Down" and "Ship is Sailing," returning. Second time around, these cuts still shine. There's plenty more roots reggae tunes like these in the wings. The best of the new bunch is "Reggae Music," a history lesson and emotional appeal on the genre's importance. And given his lengthy career, Cliff has a lot of personal history to investigate.

But for all the hullabaloo about him returning to roots reggae, Cliff's voice is still very much engrained in soul. It's ridiculous how well his pipes have held up, and he puts them to good use on the epic, horn-laden "One More." It's a reggae tune for sure, but Cliff's voice soars so much higher, something illustrated again on "Rebel Rebel" (which is not a David Bowie cover). Guy just belts like no other.

If Rebirth has a flaw, it's that one-third of its tracks were already released on Sacred Fire. Still, hearing Cliff get so engaged in his music again is a major perk. Rebirth is just that, a reawakening, a reassessment of what made Cliff so compelling in the first place. And really, that Rancid cover is just awesome.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
sometwo (July 23, 2012)

I dunno, the remake of Vietnam is pretty lame.

ArtVandaleigh74 (July 21, 2012)

Ok, Surfanddestroy. Yes, like Sublime, although i did enjoy them at the Pony in 1995. Let me know your plans for Underdog tonight if I don't have baby poo on me or just come by and get some Buju Banton. Unfortunately, the surf dropped significantly since last night.

Art Vandaleigh
Vandaleigh Industries

lushj (July 20, 2012)

I am super-stoked on this album- it's like there hasn't been 30 years between "The Harder They Come" and this record!

And in addition to John Gentile's suggestions (especially the Trojan 3-cd boxes- a great way to sample the various sub-genres), I'd add that a lot of what's been mentioned is slower (reggae & dub) than most of the 54-56 Was My Number-era Toots & The Maytals.

Me, I'm a sucker for the 60s ska, the rocksteady, and the crazy deep dub of Lee Scratch Perry & his successors. If you find yourself going in that direction, then you should start to check out the On-U Sound stuff like Dub Syndicate & African Head Charge. There's some WEIRD shit in there that often sounds only tangentially related to the other artists suggested below.

johngentile (July 20, 2012)

Surf and Destroy- Be sure to check out Lee Scratch Perry's Super Ape. Also, check out Peter Tosh, Junior Murvin, Mikey Dread, Yellowman. Michael Prophet, Freddy McGregor, and pretty much anything produced by Lee Perry or Henry Junjo lawless. The trojan 3cd box sets are a really good thing to check out, too.

surfanddestroyLBI (July 20, 2012)

Thank you bike dudes, and especially you Mr. Costanza, AKA Mr. Vandelay. I hope your misspelling of the pseudonym is intentional - perhaps it's your own version - otherwise I might have to let the Sandpaper know that one of their writers made such an egregious error. I will, however, let it slide because I did not realize the almighty Underdog was playing this Saturday. Maybe I need a pseudonymous Facebook so I can keep up with upcoming shows. By the way, I recently became an Ocean Acres Bone-Breaker so your generalization no longer applies to me, but I do love reggae... You mean like Sublime right?

ArtVandaleigh74 (July 20, 2012)

SurfanddestroyLBI, the Ship Bottom kids love the reggae. You should go see Underdog on Sat, and hear them play Mass Movement. And there should be some choppy 3-4 foot surf to destroy...

BikeMordy (July 20, 2012)

surfanddestroyLBI - Check out Desmond Dekker, Burning Spear, Bob Marley (of course), Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Augustus Pablo, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Sly & Robbie, U-Roy or get the countless Trojan Records Ska/Rocksteady/Reggae comps if you want a sampling.

eatbicycles (July 20, 2012)

surfanddestroy, check out Prince Buster, Joe Gibbs, Alton Ellis, BIg Youth, Culture, U-Roy, and always always always Count Ossie and the Mystic Revalation of Rastafari

surfanddestroyLBI (July 20, 2012)

I'm definitely going to check this out. I love the reggae style of Toots and the Maytals and can't stop listening to my Funky Kingston record, but I'm not really sure who else is worth getting into. Can anyone tell me what other great reggae bands I would have heard during a Don Letts set in his prime?

boobthemusicindustry (July 20, 2012)

Just saw in my little old hometown Annapolis. Dude was insane. You know, like how the kids use it. Insane.

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