Jimmy Cliff

Harder Road to Travel: The Collection

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Jimmy Cliff paved the way for Bob Marley in the late '60s and early '70s with a string of classic early reggae tracks that blended the rough, funky production feel of Jamaica’s Kingston studios with a sharp pop sense that allowed Cliff to gain an international reputation. This two-disc set collects his earlier ska efforts (on disc one) with his breakthrough rocksteady hits (on disc two) to give a pretty measured survey of his work and appeal. The earlier disc (which covers the years 1960 to early 1969) features duets with Millie Small (“Hey Boy, Hey Girl”) and Jackie Edwards (“Set Me Free”), but it’s the second disc (covering mid-1969 through 1972) that shows Cliff at his creative peak with cuts like “Wonderful World, Beautiful People,” “Vietnam,” “Many Rivers to Cross,” “Wild World” (written and produced by Cat Stevens, who later took his own version of this song into the charts), “Sitting in Limbo,” “The Harder They Come,” and “Bongo Man,” among others. The end result is a compelling portrait of Jamaica’s first real international pop star.

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