The word ‘legend’ is mightily over-used in the world of reggae but it is rightly applied to a select group of Jamaican performers who have generated the music and spread the word about reggae music – those such as the late Toots Hibbert, the unique Lee Perry and, in this instance, the enduring legacy of Jimmy Cliff. Now aged 77, Jimmy Cliff has popularised reggae music through the film ‘The Harder they Come’ (1972) and with songs such as ‘Many Rivers to Cross’, ‘Let Your Yeah be Yeah’ and ‘You Can Get it if you Really Want’, going right back ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Miss Jamaica’ in the early 1960s. These latter songs were firmly in the ska tradition, reggae having yet to develop into the music we know today. And they still sound good, an astonishing 60 years later.
Jimmy Cliff is now back with a new single entitled ‘Human Touch’ (from his forthcoming album ‘Bridges’, his first album for nine years). It’s not the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name, but a gentle song by Jimmy Cliff with words written some time ago but newly relevant today as pandemic and lockdown remind us of the pain created by the lack of closeness to others.
Jimmy Cliff: Human Touch, released August 2021