Barbara Ellington, Lifestyle Editor
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inductee Jimmy Cliff is on the verge of releasing his latest CD, titled Existence. The project has 15 exciting songs, 13 of which are brand new compositions. On a recent trip to the island, Cliff gave this reporter an opportunity to listen to the tracks.
The concept behind the lyrics explores man's existence in all spheres of life. Cliff explained that he carefully crafted the songs to deal with today's realities of conflict among nations, global warming and the environment, the good and bad in human relationships, greed, poverty and love.
"The CD is almost finished except for some final production touches and I am the sole singer. There is one song that I co-wrote with Joe Higgs, one of the unsung heroes of our music industry, who taught Bob Marley to harmonise on guitar," Cliff revealed. He said Higgs accompanied him on his first overseas tour.
Cliff, who will embark on a tour of North America and Europe in July and August this year, said there are many strong songs on the album that could be released as singles prior to the CD.
Existence, the title track that begins and ends the CD, is repeated five times and each time it is introduced with different musical instruments, expertly played by a group of young and talented Jamaicans with whom Cliff is so impressed, he wants them on tour with him. The songs range from music suitable for dancing to easy, relaxed listening. One particular track, All For Love, is so all-inclusive it can be applicable from a romantic situation to church.
There are times when one listens to a CD and does not find all the songs particularly great to listen to. This is not the case with Existence. Among the tracks that have remained in my consciousness since are: On My Way Up I Took Everyone With Me; Blessed Love; Rebel, Rebel, Rebel; Everybody Loves a Winner; You're a Blessing in Disguise and I Got to Move On. There is even something for the children.
Cliff said writing the songs took about two years, once he decided on the concept.
"I tried to touch all aspects of our existence, from global warming to starvation and moving to love and hope which are still alive and will always be here."
Asked whether he was hearing a difference in his voice, compared to two decades ago, he said yes, he is now a more mature and evolved Jimmy Cliff and that is obvious in his notes. It's all that and more. The voice is clear and sweet, hardly needing instruments.
While in Jamaica, Cliff received the final draft of his latest screenplay for the movie he hopes to start shooting soon. It tells the story of the legendary Wappy King and, along with starring in it, Cliff will also be writing the music.