Jimmy Cliff

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Jimmy Cliff was adept at writing and recording a kind of pop reggae, and when he was on his mark, no one, not even the great Bob Marley, did it better. Working with legendary producer Leslie Kong, Cliff turned out numerous ska, rock-steady, and early reggae hits, culminating in the soundtrack to The Harder They Come, a Perry Henzell film that featured Cliff in the starring role. Kong's death in 1971, shortly after completing the Harder soundtrack, marks a divide in Cliff's career, and his work since has seemed uneven and unfocused. This two-disc collection assembles mostly material from the Kong years, including the hits "Wonderful World, Wonderful People," "Vietnam," and "Many Rivers to Cross." Also included here is the wonderful nyahbinghi song, "Bongo Man (A Come)," set to the timeless Jamaican "Key Man" melody. There are a lot of Jimmy Cliff collections out there, and this one is as good as any; but if you're only going to have one Cliff album, then the choice has to be the soundtrack to The Harder They Come.

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