Cliff Hanger did it for JimmySaturday, January 11, 2014
The Grammy Awards are scheduled for January 26 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Five nominees (Beres Hammond, Ziggy Marley, Sizzla, Alpha Blondy and Sly and Robbie) are up for Best Reggae Album. Leading up to the big event, the Jamaica Observer presents a daily reflection on the reggae category. Today, we look at the 1986 winner, Cliff Hanger, by Jimmy Cliff.
WHEN Jimmy Cliff cut the Cliff Hanger album for Columbia Records in 1985, he had settled into the role of journeyman reggae artiste. Like its predecessor, The Power And The Glory, the set had a distinctive pop feel. Cliff Hanger was far from vintage Cliff.
Its most popular offering was the disco-like Hot Shot, an obvious attempt by the singer’s handlers to break him into the pop market. For his second straight album, Cliff collaborated with funk group Kool and the Gang who had written Reggae Nights, the hit song from The Power And The Glory. La Toya Jackson is also credited as co-writer on two tracks.
Cliff Hanger won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording, beating Working Wonders by Judy Mowatt, Play The Game Right (Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers), Burning Spear (Resistance) and Alive in Jamaica by the Blue Riddim Band.
While it was not a strong seller, Cliff Hanger signalled a renaissance for Cliff, a former prodigy who achieved superstardom through his role as Ivan in the 1972 movie, The Harder They Come. He had an international following thanks to songs like Wonderful World,
Beautiful People, You Can Get It If You Really Want and Many Rivers to Cross, all from The Harder They Come soundtrack.
But by the mid and late 1970s, Cliff had released a string of mediocre albums for various labels including Reprise, EMI and Warner Brothers. In 1985, he participated in the Artists United Against Apartheid movement while Bruce Springsteen covered his song Trapped for the USA For Africa initiative.
The following year, Cliff was back on the silver screen, co-starring with Robin Williams and Peter O’Toole in the comedy Club Paradise.
Cliff returned to the American pop charts in 1993 with his cover of Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now, taken from the soundtrack to the hit movie Cool Runnings.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
Last year, Jimmy Cliff won his second Grammy for Best Reggae Album with the critically-acclaimed Rebirth.
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