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Artist Profile
Jimmy Cliff
Apr 1, 1948 ~
One of reggae’s most consistently successful artists whose career stretches from the early ska period right through to the present day and includes the starring role in the ‘The Harder They Come’… the film that helped to introduce reggae to an international audience.
>>Featured Page
Real name:
James Chambers
Place of birth:
Jamaica
St. Catherine
"Every day hundreds of kids flock into the slums of Kingston from the hillsides of Jamaica – drawn by the promise of the transistor – sure that they can get it if they really want. Jimmy Cliff was one of those kids, and that dream is still at the root of his music. For him the dream came true......." The The Harder they Come
Perhaps Jimmy Cliff's refusal to ignore preconceptions has meant that he has not always been given his rightful recognition as one of reggae's greatest singers and songwriters. Throughout his entire career he has consistently broken down barriers but his insistence on exploring all the musical avenues open to him has at times confused both critics and public alike.

Born James Chambers in 1948 in the rural parish of St. Catherine Jimmy moved to the city in 1962 where he was lured away from his schooling into a career in Kingston's nascent music business. He made his first recordings that same year for two sound system operators, 'Daisy Got Me Crazy' for Count Boysie and 'I'm Sorry' for Sir Cavalier, but these proved more popular on 'reference disc' than on commercial release. He then sang 'Dearest Beverley' for Leslie Kong at Kong's Beverley's Record Shop and Ice Cream Parlour at 135A Orange Street. Leslie Kong was so captivated by the youngster's bravura performance that he promptly took him to the studio and recorded 'Dearest Beverley' and 'Hurricane Hattie', renamed him Jimmy Cliff and released the songs back to back on the Beverley's(Beverleys) label in Jamaica and on Island in the U.K.. The record was one of Leslie Kong's first releases and, in his subsequent career as a record producer, he would go on to play a highly significant role in the development of the music of Jamaica.

'Hurricane Hattie' was a huge Jamaican hit and Jimmy went on to record a number of successful ska sides for Beverley's(Beverleys), including 'King Of Kings' and 'One Eyed Jacks', that soon established him as one of Jamaica's foremost vocalists. A short promotional film, currently available as 'This Is Ska', was shot at Kingston's Sombrero Club featuring an incredibly youthful Jimmy handing in a truly dynamic performance alongside Prince Buster, The Charmers, Stranger Cole and The Maytals.

At the request of Chris Blackwell Jimmy moved to London where Island Records nurtured him as a solo star for the U.K.'s 'progressive' music scene. Jimmy lived in London for a number of years where he became a well known and well loved figure and, amongst many others, he worked with P.P. Arnold, Madeleine Bell, and Mott The Hoople's Ian Hunter. However, even appearances on Island's popular sampler albums alongside 'underground' favourites such as The Incredible String Band and Jethro Tull failed to find a crossover audience for his music.

In 1968 he travelled to Brazil to represent Jamaica in the International Song Festival where his entry 'Waterfall' gained him a serious following in South America although it did not sell in England. His stay in Brazil gave him the opportunity to review his career and to write new songs. He then returned to Jamaica to work with Leslie Kong who had now discovered the international success that Jimmy had travelled all over the world to try and find by simply staying at home!

In the winter of 1969 their 'Wonderful World Beautiful People' soared to the dizzy heights of Number 6 in the U.K. National Charts and Jimmy finally began to enjoy the crossover success that had so far eluded him... and it was a reggae song, albeit a highly commercial one, that had done the trick! Jimmy hit again the following year with 'Vietnam' which no less an authority than Bob Dylan described as the best protest song he had ever heard. Jimmy's next hit was a cover of Cat Stevens' 'Wild World' which reached Number 8 in the U.K. charts in the autumn of 1971.

A trio of albums, 'Jimmy Cliff', 'Hard Road To Travel' and, in particular, 'Another Cycle', were well received but made it increasingly difficult for the critics and the public to categorise the music of Jimmy Cliff. In 1972 a move into the world of film defined his role as the rude boy singing star in Perry Henzell's 'The Harder they Come'. The film arguably contributed more than any other factor in ensuring the lasting international success of Jamaican music. In a storyline that bore more than a passing resemblance to his own tribulations a decade earlier young Jimmy Cliff, as Ivanhoe Martin, travels from the country to Kingston to find fame and fortune as a singer. Jimmy did eventually succeed but Ivan is knocked back at every step and everything that he makes for himself is taken away. The film ends with Ivan, now a fugitive from the forces of authority, making his last break for freedom in an enthralling scene where reality and fantasy merge seamlessly. It was a huge worldwide success and the accompanying soundtrack album, featuring a stunning selection of Jamaican musical highlights including many from Jimmy Cliff, was one of reggae's biggest selling and most popular albums of all time.

Over the next three decades Jimmy recorded for a plethora of major international companies including Columbia, EMI, Island, Reprise, Sire and Warner Brothers and his recordings continue to sell to his legions of fans worldwide: he is an immensely popular figure in Africa and South America. Although he always looked to be more than just another reggae star Jimmy also maintained his standing in Jamaica through his self produced records released on the Sun Power and Oneness labels. These included 'Sons Of Garvey' with Joe Higgs and 'Rub A Dub Partner' a huge hit that proved his proficiency with the dance hall style.

Jimmy Cliff is a true original but, because his music has not been bound by any strictures and genre defining guidelines, he has often been misunderstood. Yet his manifest achievements, both within and without the reggae business, are matched by very few and his successful career, now stretching into its fifth outstanding decade, shows no signs of letting up.
 
>>Official site
 
Related artist(s):
Bob Marley
Label Profile
Island
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LP Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack - Island UK/Universal Music
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vinyl 7" Slogans (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
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vinyl 7" Sun Is Shining (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
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vinyl 7" Africa Unite (Will. I. Am Remix) (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
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vinyl 7" Stand Up Jamrock (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
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Related label(s):
Mango
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Description of item
[All Items] → [LP] → [Reggae] → [Early Reggae 1969-1973] → [Jimmy Cliff]
Jimmy Cliff - Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
No Stock
LP LP
Jimmy Cliff
Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
Island UK/Universal Music
¥3080 (US$26.13)
Rating: 1234
Genre: Reggae
Sub Genre: Early Reggae 1969-1973
Produced by: Chris Blackwell
Approx. year: 1972
Date added: Jan 21, 2001
Date re-stocked: Aug 13, 2012
Country: Europe
Catalog number: 0042284657419
Music type: Vocal
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12 TRACKS :
1) You Can Get It If You Really Want
2) Draw Your Brakes
3) Rivers Of Babylon
4) Many Rivers To Cross
5) Sweet And Dandy
6) The Harder They Come
7) Johnny Too Bad
8) 007
9) Pressure Drop
10) Sitting In Limbo
11) You Can Get It If You Really Want
12) The Harder They Come
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