Higher and Higher

by: Jimmy Cliff

After spending 20 years on other labels, Jimmy Cliff returned to Island, the label who helped launch his career, in 1998 to record Higher & Highter. Cliff may have returned to the site of many of his early masterworks, but Higher & Higher simply doesn't live up to the high quality of his first records. Granted, most reggae doesn't match the heights of The Harder They Come, but what's so disappointing about Higher & Higher is that it feels like a retread. Six of the songs are either covers of old hits ("Many Rivers to Cross") or old hits themselves ("The Harder They Come"). The remaining six songs divide between four new songs, the title cover and his unexpected 1994 hit cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now." Certainly, there's some very good music here, but the piecemeal nature of the project is irksome, especially since this album should have been a triumphant reunion with Island. Instead, it's just another average Jimmy Cliff record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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