On Jimmy Cliff's last album, "Black Magic" in 2004, the legendary performer was inspired by sounds outside of his genre, through dance, electronica and punk. This time, punk comes to him, on his turf.
Late next month, the reggae legend is releasing his first new tracks in seven years, the "Sacred Fire EP," produced by Tim Armstrong. The Rancid frontman is also helming Cliff's next, as-yet-untitled full-length, due in 2012.
The digital version of five-track "Sacred Fire" will by out on Nov. 29, while a six-track 12" vinyl version will be out on Nov. 25, as part of Record Store Day's Black Friday indie retailer promotion.
Preceding the release is a free download (well, for the price of your email address) of leading single "Ship Is Sailing"; the sunny, only slightly frail track is a perfect segue into the year's coldest months, and it bodes well for some exciting covers. These include a take on longtime Cliff admirer Bob Dylan's adopted activist anthem "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and The Clash's classic "Guns of Brixton," which was heavily influenced by reggae music and continues to be associated with the race riots and police activity in Britain during the early '80s.
It could also serve as a nod to The Clash's Joe Strummer, who collaborated with the Jamaican star on his 2002 set "Fantastic Plastic People." Strummer died later that year. And The Clash has an undeniable influece on Rancid, whose last album was released in 2009. Cliff covers that band's former hit "Ruby Soho" on "Sacred Fire EP," as well. It's a mutual appreciation society, eh?
"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 the 63-year-old activist/singer/actor in a statement.
Sacred Fire EP Special Edition 12-Inch Vinyl - Out 11/25 for Record Store Day
1. Guns of Brixton
2. World Upside Down
3. Ruby Soho
4. Ship Is Sailing
5. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
6. Brixton Version
Sacred Fire EP CD/Digital - Out 11/29
1. Guns of Brixton
2. Ruby Soho
3. Ship is Sailing
4. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
5. Brixton Version