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2013 Grammy WIN for Best Reggae Album
Jimmy Cliff - legendary name in music. I consider myself very mid-line musically informed, and even I know this. This guy's been going for many, many years now, and is still charting in Rolling Stone as one of the best of the year, album-wise.
This album was done because Cliff says he still have goals, and damn, I can respect that. If you don't have goals, what have you got left to work for? What do you have left to live for? And goddamn I should take my own advice.
We're also in for some of the same recording instruments and techniques used in Cliff's original recordings. He literally went back to the beginning and re-birthed his own music.
So we start things off with "World Upside Down." I want to note here that I'm pausing "True Blood" to do this, so this all better be awesome. Heh. Anywhos, a very classic recording sound here for sure. It's almost as if The Beatles were doing light reggae. There's like a gritty little filter over it, keeping out an exact clean sound, and that kind of works out brilliantly. It's an upbeat, funky little way to get this thing started.
Slowing things down just a little bit, we get "Cry No More." Jimmy takes things up a little higher, almost sounding like he's straining his voice over the wish of happiness. This is a really gentle, great song that I almost guarantee will make you smile. While it's not the best thing I've ever heard vocally (seriously, mid-range is his home, not up here), it's got everything else so perfectly under control that it's worth every second.
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"Children's Bread" is kind of more of what I'd consider a classic reggae song. It's got the island sound, but also tells a sad story, somehow staying ridiculously upbeat. Reggae, at least some of the best songs, actually grabs your heart and compels you to strive for better for the entire world.
"Guns Of Brixton" has a really incredible beat and rhythm section in general. That's what's standing out to me most right now, and I bet there's a lot of different things just about anyone can take from here. The lyrics are meaningful for sure, but that shaker in the backing just has my soles doing a samba across the room!
Okay, easily described enough: "Reggae Music." I mean, the chorus is just a celebration of it making you feel good, which, I mean… duh. It's a celebration of the past with so much fun thrown into the melodies I can barely handle it. I totally would not choose to listen to this on my own, but once you get into a good groove with an album, you just can't deny it.
"Outsider" takes on this old school Ray Charles sound, where things are quick and driven by a piano beat. Yet, of course, the background singers help bring on that reggae sound that you don't hear with this older sound very ofter. I love that the whole theme is about his love for music and needing it to survive, and that, I guess, makes him an outsider. I may be missing a little bit of the point, but I like it all the same, even if just because of those few lines.
I have a silly hope that "Rebel Rebel" is a cover, but I'm going to go ahead and assume otherwise. It's one of those reggae songs that you can't totally interpret the lyrics on, because the accent being used is so dang thick. It moves on along, and just gives a nice backbeat while I, quite frankly, continue reading "Game of Thrones." Of course those horns are a little distracting, but probably in the best way they can me.
This next one is almost a combo of the last two. "Blessed Love" keeps up this light and on-air sound, where you can feel the sweet summer breeze through the music. But at the same time, Jimmy's voice goes down and deeper in spots and it really makes a significant impact on what you get to hear. There's something enthralling about this song, that just has a way of making your heart happy and grateful.
Now, as we enter this final stretch of the album, you'll have to excuse me - I can only have my music up one notch at work - can't bother others, of course. "Ship Is Sailing" seems to be exactly what is implied - a sailing song. As is usually the case, I'm sure there is a deeper meaning, such as moving on with your life. But for the time being, it's a gentle song in the background with a nice swaying beat throughout it.
"One More - Alternative Version" is the final song on the album. Ha, I should've looked down the list earlier in the listening process. If you look at that particular paragraph, I mentioned it should have been an ending track. Now it makes sense. Still the same general good beat, still a good song all around, and this time it's ending things out nice and appropriately. Woo hoo, nice rounded-out album.
Added to My Playlist:
- "World Upside Down"
- "Cry No More"
- "Blessed Love"
I need a good reggae album once in a while, don't you? This was a good one, for sure. It was done by a legend, which earns the whole thing a bit of respect on its own merit. And the messages and music of course are totally able to stand on their own as really, well, good stuff.