There was a time when you couldn't find a decent Jimmy Cliff greatest-hits collection that covered both the storied singer's ska and reggae songs on one CD, but 2003's Many Rivers to Cross stepped into an arena filled with contenders covering essentially the same early-'60s to early-'70s era. Many Rivers distances itself from the pack with a heavy dose of ska tracks, including suspect "Hurricane Hatty," but also less well known cuts like "King of Kings," "Miss Jamaica," "Gold Digger," "You Are Never Too Old," and "The Prodigal." This is formative stuff that paved the way for Cliff's soul-soaked rocksteady and reggae cuts that catapulted the singer and songwriter to an international star. Those cuts are here too, including the 1969 breakout single "Wonderful World Beautiful People" along with "Many Rivers to Cross," "You Can Get It if You Really Want It," and "The Harder They Come" from the 1972 film of the same name. There are collections that dig deeper, like the double-disc Anthology from Hip-O, and still others that root out every ska or reggae cut that Cliff laid down, but for a concise single-disc retrospective, Many Rivers to Cross gives the best picture of this superstar's rise.
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AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan