Black Magic

Jimmy Cliff

Artemis Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


The artist formerly known as James Chambers was born in St. James, Jamaica. Now known as Jimmy Cliff, he is considered one of the premiere reggae long-distance runners. His first hit came to him in 1963, after he was discovered in an ice cream parlor. (You just never know who is listening.) His attentive fan base continues to grow even now, and justifiably so. Beginning with Hard Road To Travel, his debut album in 1967/1968, and culminating with present-day Black Magic, Jimmy continues to prove that reggae is true "world music."

Jimmy quickly outgrew the boundaries of Jamaica; he saw the potential in exposing the world to Reggae, and he has fulfilled that challenge. His music was one of the first to arouse an interest in ska.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With Black Magic, Jimmy does not downplay the realities of poverty and politics and has used his patient nature to allow his music to speak the truth. "People" is an excellent example of his desire to improve the world. This song features Sting and Tony Rebel, although I actually forgot they played a role, as Jimmy's vocals are strong enough to handle it on his own. This is easily my favorite pick of the album: "There comes a time to gather around again.... People let's get together and show our power all over the world."

He fosters a positive nature -- "you're not just a victim" -- and he makes you feel that if we all were just humble enough to put aside our differences, everything would turn out alright. "No Problems, only Solutions", is another forceful song and that's practical to our daily lives. I like the bit of funk, and again, the lyrics commend those that seek a constructive way to solve problems.

I was a bit disappointed with "Terror," honoring those lost on September 11 (as Jimmy describes it, "hell in heaven"). I found the music a bit too chipper for such a solemn topic, but that doesn't detract from the lyrics as they are clear and concise and remind us of the loss suffered that day.

This man's album is based on providing encouragement to seek creative responses to everyday issues. Life isn't easy, but we can still allow our integrity and love of human kind to guide us. I think he would agree with the author Loretta Laroche who stated, "life is short, wear your party pants."

This album provides upbeat music and as long as the album plays, you can forget your troubles, and think about the good things in life. Jimmy leaves nothing out; as a whole, you leave the table feeling full and satisfied.

Black Magic also displays Jimmy's ability to share the limelight with other artists such as Annie Lennox, Joe Strummer (The Clash), Sting, Jools Holland (Squeeze), Kool and the Gang, and Wyclef Jean. Although unnecessary, the extracurricular vocalists and musicians provide a multi-dimensional background for Jimmy's expressive lyrics and fat vocals.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Tammy Childs and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Artemis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.