Oh, to have been a fly on the studio wall for these sessions.
Anyone even halfway familiar with the Bay Area’s pugnacious punk iconoclasts Rancid knows how much they adore classic 1960’s-era reggae, dub and ska. And how well they themselves have learned to play it.
So it must have been some all-time career high for the band’s Tim Armstrong, when he got to produce not only an upcoming EP by Jamaican legend Jimmy Cliff that’s coming in November, but a full-length album, as well, that hits early next year.
Any true-blue punk rocker can testify — they were probably all introduced to the reggae genre via the Cliff-starring soundtrack to “The Harder They Come” ’70s flick, in which he also starred as a small-time desperado.
Cliff — basically the Sam Cooke of the Leslie “King” Kong scene — first heard of Armstrong through a mutual friend, the late Clash anchor Joe Strummer. Naturally, the first single from the EP is a cover of that outfit’s dub-echoey “Guns Of Brixton.”
“Tim has such a great foothold in the tradition,” Cliff says of his spike-haired benefactor. “He woke me up to a lot of things I had forgotten.” And regarding the 63-year-old Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, Armstrong noted that “Jimmy is one of my favorite musical heroes, and I’ve been responding to his music my whole life.”
Their collaboration marks Cliff’s first new material in seven long years. For more, visit www.jimmycliff.com.