RELEASE DATE: October 21st 2005
CD Edition limited to 5000 non-numbered limitied edition copies.
In 1969, looking to expand the label’s musical horizons, A&M co-founder Jerry Moss met with Chris Blackwell, whose Island Records roster included a plethora of cutting-edge acts including Traffic, Fairport Convention, Cat Stevens and Jimmy Cliff, amongst others. Through a licensing agreement with Island, A&M obtained Cliff.
In 1970, Jimmy Cliff delivered reggae to America. It was the first time that a major label would test the airwaves and retail with an unproven foreign musical genre. Despite a top 25 single (the title track), the album’s reception stateside was fairly cool, and Wonderful World, Beautiful People would be Cliff’s only A&M release.
These recordings were made between 1967 and 1971 for Island Records in the UK, the label to which Jimmy Cliff was signed. Our motivation is to illuminate how Jimmy Cliff —and by extension, reggae— was presented in the U.S. prior to the breakthrough of The Harder They Come by the one album A&M Records released and the three they chose not to.
Ironically, if Jimmy Cliff had never written and recorded “Many Rivers to Cross,” which was on the Wonderful World, Beautiful People album, Cliff would never have come to star in The Harder They Come, which heralded reggae’s breakthrough in America. And without Harder, Bob Marley might never have transformed from a regional star into an international artist, thus precluding Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and the reggae-influenced rock of The Police (a staple of the A&M catalogue).
Exquisitely packaged in an embossed book loaded with rare photos and extensive notes, the 46 recordings gathered here show an artist on the verge of conquering the world.
***If you like Jimmy Cliff, be sure to check out our Goodbye Yesterday single-disc compilation, also available exclusively from Hip-O Select!
Did You Know? Jimmy Cliff’s real name is James Chambers.