Performer: Jimmy Cliff
Engineer: Bill Mims; Kevin Bivona; Clinton Welander...
Producer: Tim Armstrong...
Notes: Personnel: Kevin Bivona (guitar, piano); Tim Armstrong (guitar); James King (flute, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); David Moyer, Liam Philpot (saxophone); Jordan Katz, Michael Bolger (trumpet, trombone); Dan Boer (organ); Scott Abels (drums); The Engine Room (percussion); Aimee Allen, Jordis Unga, Dash Hutton, Ashli Haynes, Nicki Bonner, Tim Hutton, Jean McClain (background vocals). Audio Mixers: John Morrical; Kevin Bivona; Tim Armstrong. Recording information: Canyon Hut, Los Angeles, CA (05/29/2011-05/31/2011); Sound Factory, Los Angeles, CA (05/29/2011-05/31/2011); Canyon Hut, Los Angeles, CA (06/06/2011-06/08/2011); Sound Factory, Los Angeles, CA (06/06/2011-06/08/2011); Canyon Hut, Los Angeles, CA (08/09/2011); Sound Factory, Los Angeles, CA (08/09/2011); Canyon Hut, Los Angeles, CA (11/07/2011-11/20/2011); Sound Factory, Los Angeles, CA (11/07/2011-11/20/2011); Canyon Hut, Los Angeles, CA (12/06/2011-12/09/2011); Sound Factory, Los Angeles, CA (12/06/2011-12/09/2011). Photographers: Mark Seliger; Tom Sheehan . If the reggae legend's 2004 effort Black Magic was like Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett's Duets albums --late-era, star-filled, and somewhat flat -- Rebirth is Jimmy Cliff's American Recordings (Johnny Cash) or Praise & Blame (Tom Jones), where a veteran artist goes raw and relights the fire with the help of a kindred spirit/knowing producer. For Cash and Jones, it was Rick Rubin and Ethan Johns respectively, while here it's a bit of a surprise with Rancid frontman and Clash devotee Tim Armstrong delivering something well above the expected punky reggae party. "Guns of Brixton" is a natural, and Cliff's take on Rancid's "Ruby Soho" is a ska recreation to behold, but when the sometimes poptacular reggae singer dons a wild, Lee "Scratch" Perry persona for the carnival song "Bang" ("I came into this life, I came in with a bang/I'm living my life, I live it with a bang"), deep reggae fan Armstrong knows what to do, surrounding his man Upsetter-style with a whirling dervish of ska while adding a searing guitar solo as well. When the singer gets nostalgic on "Reggae Music" ("1962, Orange Street, Kingston Jamaica/I sang my song for Leslie Kong, he said.") the backing track is alive with that roots based magic and one drop power, yet Cliff's the one who seals the deal here and throughout the album, performing like a young buck while packing his years and wisdom into the songwriting. On that front, there's the Occupy Movement theme "World Upside Down" and the powerful single "One More", while the sweetness comes from the sentimental "Ship Is Sailing", a nautical metaphor so warm it could be slipped into a Jimmy Buffett set easily, even as the tinkling keyboards honor reggae legend Jackie Mittoo, thus nominating Armstrong's loving recreation as one of the most loved. It's a return to form and just what fans of Cliff's early work could ask for, but it's vital too, putting it on the man's top shelf, somewhere in the vicinity of The Harder They Come soundtrack and Wonderful World, Beautiful People. ~ David Jeffries
Rolling Stone (p.64) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's the strongest case for the vitality of West Indian roots music that anyone has made in decades....Most of the originals are strong enough to pass as covers of classic jams." Billboard (p.28) - "REBIRTH speaks to Cliff's participation in the history he describes at the same time that it clears a path forward. It pairs a vintage sound with fresh thoughts..." Q (Magazine) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The 64-year-old singer's on top form vocally...with fiery calls for justice....A treat for all passing Jamaican audio buffs."
One of the great popularizers of reggae music, Jimmy Cliff blazed a trail into rock that Bob Marley later followed. In the mid 1960s, the young Jamaican singer moved to London to pursue his singing career. After returning to his home and recording some ska & rocksteady material, Cliff finally broke through in 1969 with "Wonderful World, Beautiful People." After hearing the song, Paul Simon travelled to Kingston and booked the same rhythm section, studio, and engineer to record "Mother and Child Reunion"--arguably the first U.S.-made reggae song. As the gun-toting, reggae-singing star of THE HARDER THEY COME (1972), Cliff was suddenly Jamaica's most marketable property. It was the island's best homegrown film, and its soundtrack one of the biggest-selling reggae records of all time.
Also Appears On:
Alimantado, Dr. Andy, Horace Aswad Black Uhuru Brown, Dennis Congos (The) Dekker, Desmond Ellis, Alton Heptones (The) Higgs, Joe Hinds, Justin Ijahman Isaacs, Gregory Johnson, Linton Kwesi Levy, Barrington Marley, Bob Marley, Ziggy McLean, Bitty Minott, Lincoln Murvin, Junior (Reggae) Police (The) Priest, Maxi Rolling Stones (The) Slickers (Reggae) (The) Sly & Robbie Steel Pulse The Meditations Toots & the Maytals Tosh, Peter U-Roy UB40
Aitken, Laurel Brown, James Flamingos (Doo Wop) (The) Higgs, Joe Holt, John (Vocals) Impressions (The) Isley Brothers (The) Paragons (Reggae) (The) Robinson, Smokey Skatalites (The) Wilson, Jackie
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