Jimmy Cliff

Super Hits

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Great title, but it took some chutzpah to slap it on this set considering that not a single one of Jimmy Cliff's hits actually appears within it. However, what you do get is an excellent selection of songs drawn from the artist's Columbia years. During his time there, between 1982-1988, Cliff released four stellar albums: Special, The Power & the Glory, the Grammy-winning Cliff Hanger, and Hanging Fire, with the latter three sets including contributions by Kool & the Gang. Roots fans obstreperously have greatest respect for Cliff's pre-roots-era albums, and give even shorter shrift to his '80s works. This compilation, however, is ample illustration of just what they're missing. The shimmering, infectious "We All Are One" is an undeniable unity classic, "Peace Officer" and "Roots Woman" are both superb cultural numbers, "Hitting with Music" is a "Harder They Come" for the dancehall age, and the breezy "Special" is feel-good reggae at its best, while "Reggae Nights" defies listeners not to groove to its infectious beats. "Hanging Fire" is just as propulsive, even as it thematically recalls "Sitting in Limbo." Back in the limbo that engulfed Cliff after the death of his producer, Leslie Kong, in 1971, the artist wrestled for several years over his next move, and in 1988 he was determined not to sit in limbo, hanging fire again. Thus the propulsive "Fire"'s title is ironic, as the artist readies himself for another musical leap. Jumping from Columbia was the first step, as Cliff embarked on a new musical journey that falls beyond this marvelous compilation's preserve.

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