Jimmy Cliff

The Power and the Glory

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By the '80s, Jimmy Cliff's music had evolved beyond the roots-reggae sound that made him a star. He changed his sound in the way that countless other musicians from the '70s did, namely, with pristine and polished production. No longer dealing in rough-around-the-edges songs of struggle and salvation riding on a tooting organ and insistent off-beat rhythm, Cliff began to sound more like the hybrid reggae/pop of Third World, Steel Pulse, and other groups whose careers he helped make possible.

But the man sure does know how to put together infectious grooves. The opener, "We Are All One," recalls Stevie Wonder's work of the same period, especially "Part Time Lover." He fully dispenses with redemption themes of old on "Reggae Night" his biggest single in years, which has a happy-go-lucky dance floor beat that even the most rhythmically challenged could groove to. On "Piece of the Pie," a plea for the have-nots of the world, Cliff returns to familiar territory. He even interpolates lyrics from Bob Marley's "Them Belly Full" for good measure. The title track, a stirring mid-tempo concoction, shows off Cliff's angelic upper register.

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