Review & Stream of New Jimmy Cliff Album Rebirth
Constantly on the move. That’s Jimmy Cliff for sure. The last year has been full of new cliff material and news. That’s surely not going to let up as his new album is set for release next week on July 17th.
Leading up to the new release Rolling Stone is streaming the full new album Rebirth right now on their site. Their newest issue also features an article and preview of the new release.
The album kicks off with “World Is Upside Down”, an uplifting ditty, even with lyrics about “war and poverty”, that will surely delight any Cliff fan.Â He has always had a way of making music about the ills of the world while at the same time making you feel excited about the future.
Listening to “One More”, the second track on the album is a different experience than watching it live. I like the recorded track more than the recent performances we’ve seen. Seems like a statement of purpose and call to action – more in-line with a punk icon than an aging Reggae star.
“Cry No More” starts out with a gospel organ intro and dives into a more laid back Reggae number with Jimmy sounding a bit less than stellar in my humble opinion but still a solid outing.
The next track “Children’s Bread” has a distantly earlier sound, due to his collaboration with Tim Armstrong and The Engine Room on these tracks, and has that edge that the collaboration would inspire. It’s got that something that makes it deeply rooted in Cliff’s earlier works but yet fresh.
“Bang” comes out swinging with deep dark sounds (Jimmy’s voice loses the high notes a bit here too though) leading off with a Clash-esque scream. Sounds like a protest song right up there with the toughest Steel Pulse cut with a tad bit of Rock edge thrown in.
Then comes the classic “Guns of Brixton” which we’ve already heard previously but cuts the same and never gets old. His version is pretty close to the original.
Track 7 “Reggae Music” is a sort of history of the music in song with it’s call outs to years past and major stars from the island. It’s chorus of “Reggae music making me feel good, Reggee music gonna make me feel good right now” pretty much sums up the track and is the least exciting track on the album.
SOUL! “Outsider” is straight up JA Soul that harks back to one of my favorite Cliff tracks “Give & Take” from the 60’s. Hand claps, girl backups, upbeat and dance floor filing if it were played at a Northern Soul dance this track is a highlight. It shows how diverse Jimmy can get. The lyrical content of “I’m an outsider” sure goes well with everyone’s persona involved with this project.
Following up this out of place but sublime track is “Rebel Rebel” which takes us back to more roots style drumming, horns and lyrical content.
A Rancid cover, “Ruby Soho”, that was featured on the Sacred Fire EP, appears again here and shines even if the toughness of the original is stripped out.
“Blessed Love” is a call out expressing Jimmy’s love to the world’s nations. It’s an upbeat and fun track.
“Ship is Sailing” features great organ work but not much else. It was also on the Scared Fire EP.
The final track is an alternate version of “One More”. It’s bit more upbeat and sassy then the first cut.
It’s an enjoyable album and one of the few new Reggae records I’d probably pick up and yet I was left longing for more attitude with the whole collaboration though. When two music pioneers, one from the beginnings of Ska & Reggae, the other a true punk icon, meet in the studio both with a distinct world view of doing it their way I was expecting something with a bit of punch, take no prisoners, snarl locked in the grooves of a Reggae beat.
Read more about Jimmy Cliff’s Rebirth in the July 5th-19th issue of Rolling Stone, on stands now.