Jimmy Cliff

This Is Crucial Reggae

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Jimmy Cliff has always taken more of a global and cosmopolitan view of music than most Jamaican singers of his generation, and his finely crafted songs are as much pure pop as they are reggae. Cliff's creative peak arguably came in the late '60s and his work with producer Leslie Kong, a pairing that gave the world such enduring classics as "Wonderful World, Beautiful People," "You Can Get It if You Really Want," "Vietnam," "Many Rivers to Cross," and "Bongo Man (A Come)," all of which are included on this brief compilation of Kong productions. Things get a little schizophrenic here, though, because of the inclusion of four early ska numbers ("Since Lately," "I'm Free," "My Lucky Day," "The Man") in the sequence. Kong produced them and Cliff certainly sings them, but ska was never Cliff's forte, and they seem out of place and crude next to the beautiful reggae-pop of the rest of the disc. Still, this works as a passable introduction to Jimmy Cliff's best era.

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