Cliff tops city gig

Jimmy Cliff on guitar.
Jimmy Cliff on guitar.

ONE of the last gods of reggae music is coming to town.

Jimmy Cliff is well remembered for smash hits such as You Can Get It If You Really Want, Many Rivers To Cross and covering Cat Steven’s Wild World and Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now.

Cliff came to the world’s attention in his early 20s — though he had been performing since his teens – when he released his international debut album Hard Road to Travel.

Singles from the record included Waterfall, Wonderful World, Beautiful People and Vietnam — which no less than Bob Dylan proclaimed the best protest song he had ever heard.

What ensued was a career that has spanned more than two decades, with Cliff working alongside the likes of former Clash frontman Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox and Sting.

Also, in the early 80s, Bruce Springsteen covered one of Cliff’s lesser-known songs, Trapped, for his live set during Springsteen’s 1981 River Tour.

Last year, the Jamaican singer made a memorable appearance at the Glastonbury Festival.

While Cliff acknowledges his army of fans will want to glory in the old hits from yesteryear, with a new album coming out shortly, he’ll be keen to emphasise the new hits also.

In an interview a few years ago, he spoke of opening up the ears of his following to what he is currently involved in: “A lot of fans will be expecting the music they know of Jimmy Cliff, so of course I will have to do a lot of those songs.

“But what does Jimmy Cliff have to offer that is new?

“So I will have an opportunity to do some of that”.

And Mr Cliff does not readily accept folk pigeon-holing him or his music.

He said: “Well, first of all I see myself as an artist — a creative artist.When I came on the scene there was nothing called reggae.

“So I had to help create that and I put in my energy which is my own.

“But I’m a creative artist and I’ve put that into many different genres of music”.

Jimmy Cliff is playing the O2 Academy on Saturday, May 19.