August 11, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA – Grammy-winning musician/actor/singer/songwriter/ producer Jimmy Cliff will release an EP, his first studio effort in seven years, in November. The EP, produced by Tim Armstrong (Operation Ivy, Rancid, The Transplants) will be released on Collective Sounds and features a combination of originals and covers, including a cover of The Clash’s seminal “Guns of Brixton”, which premiers on Stereogum today: http://stereogum.com/780812/progress-report-jimmy-cliff/franchises/progress-report/. The EP will serve as a pre-cursor to a new full-length album in early 2012.
For the EP and full-length, Cliff teamed up with Armstrong – a lifelong admirer of his work and a known purveyor of reggae music’s lasting influence and cultural impact. “Tim has such a great foothold in the tradition. He woke me up to a lot of the things I had forgotten,” said Cliff. “I enjoy the creative spontaneity of collaborating with other people. I always want to try new things. It’s the type of creative energy I have”. Armstrong adds, “Jimmy is one of my musical heroes and I’ve been responding to his music my entire life.”
The unlikely pairing has produced songs deeply rooted in the reggae tradition with their own renewed feel. “I knew vaguely about Tim through working with Joe Strummer and wanted to bring something fresh to the marketplace. Us coming from such different musical poles brought a great energy to the songs. I wanted to create something with a fresh sound – that’s why we decided to test the waters,” said Cliff. “I’ve always wanted to work with him and we connected immediately, which doesn’t happen all the time,” added Armstrong. “This is Jimmy’s record and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
On the new songs, Cliff expand on the heritage of a genre that he was such an integral part of popularizing. The music echoes Cliff’s work as a lifelong activist and purveyor of social justice – addressing issues such as war, economical instability, and political hypocrisy.
Cliff is the only living musician to receive Jamaica’s Order of Merit, the country’s highest honor for achievement in the arts and sciences. In 2007, he was also honored with a doctorate from The University of the West Indies. In a career that spans nearly fifty years, he has sold more than twenty million albums, with over twenty-five releases to his credit. He has appeared in several films, including, most notably, The Harder They Come, whose impact on reggae and pop music in general can scarcely be overstated. He has collaborated with countless other legends including The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer and Annie Lennox. Bob Dylan has called Cliff’s “Vietnam” the best protest song he ever heard, and a short list of artists who have covered Cliff’s compositions ranges from Willie Nelson and Cher, to New Order and Fiona Apple. In 2010, Cliff was one of six artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cliff will spend the rest of the year touring Europe and putting the final touches on his forthcoming full-length release.
At 63 years old, Cliff remains as passionate and creative as ever. “This is another step in the journey which I am enjoying very much,” said Cliff. “These songs are about the sacred fire inside of me. As an artist and activist, I feel I have more to accomplish. The fire is still there.”