Jimmy Cliff "Rebirth"
With the release of Rebirth Cliff returns to his roots to, as he puts it “complete a chapter of my career that was incomplete." Behind the raw, high energy passion of the album is producer Tim Armstrong, member of the Ska band Operation Ivy as well as the punk band Rancid. Armstrong recorded Cliff live in the studio with six musicians, coaxing out a spontaneous performance from the band and singer. He also used vintage gear and the same recording techniques employed in 1967-68 when Cliff began recording. Rebirth captures the essence of Cliff’s early recordings and his voice is as strong and supple as ever.
Cliff also is in top notch form in terms of writing. His songs range from personal to political. “Reggae Music” captures in four minutes the story of his career.“Our Ship is Sailing” is a love ballad, but most tracks deal with sociopolitical issues. “World Upside Down” challenges the questionable priorities of modern life. “Children’s Bread” a screed against economic divide, bops along on a happy ska bop. “Bang” begins with a Joe Strummer inspired scream and guitar, and carries the kind of self-affirming attitude that would have made the Clash singer proud.Speaking of that band, Cliff and Armstrong cover The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton.” “Ruby Soho” is an Armstrong track from his Rancid catalog.
Rebirth doesn’t pull any punches in the studio. You’ll find no over-dubbing, no fancy sound effects or reverb. It is as pure and true a reggae record as I’ve heard in decades. Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)