Jimmy Cliff GARAUD MacTAGGART - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

How come when people think of reggae most people bow in the direction of Marley and the Wailers or some of the newer groups like Third World? While Cliff, who is definitely more accessible through his feel for the pop idiom, is relegated purely to the soundtrack of The Harder They Come. Jimmy Cliff has been responsible for some great songs. "Many Rivers to Cross" is probably one of the most obvious, but such classics as "My Ancestors," "Struggling Man," "Viet Nam," "Sitting in Limbo" and "Universal Love" also deserve more recognition from the masses….

It took a while and some constant thought, but I think that this album has even replaced Give Thankx as my personal favorite Cliff album….

[I Am the Living] has great songs, pop songs with lyric content that is far above the majority of material now heard. "Gone Clear" is an eloquent statement on nuclear power…. "Morning Train" moves out; "All the Strength We Got" and the title tune for the album could be legit singles.

This is a great record. I've heard it well over 50 times, and I can honestly say that I'm not tired of it. Given the durability of the majority of stuff out on the market, that has to mean something. My definite choice for reggae album of the year….

Garaud MacTaggart, "Record Reviews: 'I Am the Living'," in Detroit Metro Times (copyright © 1980 Detroit Metro Times; reprinted by permission), Vol. 1, No. 6, December 24, 1980, p. 18.