Jimmy Cliff / Nu Colors / Nu Colours


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Jimmy Cliff's best work was done under the wing of legendary Jamaican producer Leslie Kong in the late '60s and early '70s, and following Kong's death of a heart attack in 1971, that certain intangible spark from the Kong years seemed to dim in Cliff's subsequent recordings. Although he was too gifted a performer and writer to make patently bad albums, Cliff seemed to drift off course beginning with Unlimited, the first of three albums he recorded for EMI (it was originally released in the U.S. by Reprise in 1973), and the first done without Kong's involvement. The tracks on Unlimited followed roughly the same successful template as before -- melodic pop tunes over solid Jamaican rhythms, sweetened occasionally with tasteful string arrangements -- but the results seemed somehow only partially realized. Oh, there were striking songs on Unlimited, of course, including the lovely opener, "Under the Sun, Moon and Stars," the stirring, wise, and historically accurate "Oh Jamaica," and the bright, poppy "On My Life," but several tracks seemed oddly lifeless and uninspired, for all of Cliff's obvious commitment and passion. Jimmy Cliff at half-speed is still a charismatic pop artist, and Unlimited is certainly worth a listen, but don't expect the same magic of his earlier years.

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