Jimmy Cliff

Reggae Man

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In 1981, Jimmy Cliff decided to part ways with Warner/Reprise after nine years at the company. He inked a deal with Columbia soon after, and handed them four excellent albums -- Special, The Power & the Glory, the Grammy-winning Cliff Hanger, and Hanging Fire, before their partnership came to an end. Unlike the more digitized style that took hold in Jamaica during these years, Cliff's records all featured "real" music provided by his backing Oneness band, a group whose membership shifted somewhat over the years, but always included top Jamaican musicians. With one ear held close to the dancehalls back home, and his other open to the music flooding the clubs in New York, London, and beyond, Cliff's sound effortlessly bridged the two, creating dance-friendly reggae-pop for an international crowd -- which is why Columbia, now part of the Sony Music group, has been successfully cannibalizing these records for compilations ever since. And truthfully, it doesn't really matter which tracks they picked; there were only good ones to choose from, alongside an inordinate number of great ones. Still, Reggae Man is probably the least value for money of the entire batch, a particularly stingy compilation comprised of a measly ten tracks. Sure, there are superb numbers within, from the unity anthem "We Are All One" and equally infectious "Reggae Night" on to the rootsier "Reggae Down Babylon" and across the rockers-styled "Peace Officer." But with so many compilations to choose from, why not grab one with more music?

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