Contrary to popular belief, this album, initially titled JIMMY CLIFF and released on Lee Perry's "Trojan Records", was the very first album released outside of Jamaica to achieve success and opened the doors for other artist from the islands to begin to broaden their horizons as well. Released in 1969 a year before The Wailers would release their first international album SOUL REBELS, this album would later be renamed WONDERFUL WORLD BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE upon it's release in the U.S. after the success of that particular single on the charts.
This is a wonderful album by Jimmy and shows his deep appreciation for his roots which was Ska, Roots Reggae and the Gospel and Soul his was exposed to while listening to artists like Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. This was truly an exciting time for Reggae as it was drawing the attention of producers and artists both in the U.K. and the U.S. The work of the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Wailers and Jimmy was foundational and truly set the stage for all those who would follow.
The album has a wonderful blend of all the genre's that inspired Jimmy while maintaining that distinct Reggae beat and feel. Some of my favorites are the aforementioned title track, "Many Rivers To Cross"; "Vietnam"; "Sufferin' In The Land" and the wonderful "My Ancestors" a song which is truly a Roots Reggae classic. This is a wonderful album and in it's own way historic too.
Jimmy Cliff does not get near the credit he deserves for his songwriting, singing and performances. His work is every bit as important as that of the early Wailers in the formation and growth of Reggae as a "mainstream" genre. The Wailers are my favorite Reggae band and Bob Marley is in a league all his own, however, Jimmy Cliff is a master himself who deserves much praise for the wonderful songs he has shared with us over the years.
This album was truly the beginning of something very special from a very special, humble and talented man. I know you will be blessed by the songs included in this release and will develop a great appreciation for one of music's ture pioneers.