Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff was one of the first performers to take the music beyond his native Jamaica. His voice is higher and sweeter-sounding than Bob Marley's, yet like Marley, Cliff has that fervent, declarative style, righteous but never overbearing. SPECIAL is from 1982, and is a fine sampling of Cliff's brand of easy-going, pop-tinged reggae. "Treat the Youths Right" and "Roots Radical" are both groove-oriented and topical--the former is a plea for understanding for young people, the latter a declaration of pride in Jamaican roots and culture. "Keep on Dancing" and "Rub-a-Dub Partner" are bright, summery exhortations to good times and romance. This is not an album for those seeking the darkly intense "culture" style of reggae--for that, check out Burning Spear and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Cliff takes the reggae form and adds a chorus of soothing yet soulful chorus, flute, fuzzy guitars and electronic keyboards, making for a fine album for those who prefer their reggae light, bouncy, and instantly catchy.
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AllMusic Review by AllMusic