Although this is subtitled "The Best of Jimmy Cliff," it's really a label-specific best-of, not a true survey of the best material Cliff's done in his lengthy career. That's because no less than two-thirds of the 15 selections are taken from the singer's 1980 Columbia albums. A few of his most famous earlier recordings (the 1969 hit "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" and two songs from the soundtrack to The Harder They Come) were licensed, and there are also cuts he contributed to other soundtracks ("Third World People," done for Club Paradise, and "I Can See Clearly Now" from Cool Runnings). But basically, it's the best of Cliff's Columbia years, not a balanced survey of a career that began back in the early '60s. That wouldn't be such a problem, but -- as most Cliff and reggae fans would agree -- his later recordings, such as his Columbia albums, certainly are not up to his prime earlier output. Most of it is mundane crossover reggae/R&B/pop. Cliff sings consistently well, but the production is often too slick in a dated 1980s fashion. The reggae isn't always buried by any means; cuts like "Treat the Youths Right" and "Roots Woman" are reasonable upbeat Cliff originals, and "Peace Officer" has the sort of political concerns common to much reggae music. On the other hand, something like "Reggae Night" is a forgettable attempt to reach into the R&B dance market. Most of the disc is better than that, but its overall bland character is set all the more in relief when periodically interrupted by those older licensed tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger