Nov 302011

When you think of Rancid’s “Ruby Soho,” you probably think: punk. And it is, but it’s always had a vaguely reggae-ish groove. The opening line even makes this explicit: “Echoes of reggae coming through my bedroom wall.” Now the connection becomes even clearer from reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, who covers it on his new EP. Continue reading »

Aug 122011

Jimmy Cliff may not be a household name these days, but the name Bob Marley may not have been one either had it not been for the road paved by Cliff. Cliff rose to international fame with his role, musically and as an actor, in the 1972 film The Harder They Come, which exposed much of the world to reggae for the first time. The title song of the movie is listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, along with Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross.” Continue reading »

Apr 072011

Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What, his first album in five years, drops next week (listen to it now on NPR), so it figures the Simon promotion machine is in full swing. Just an hour ago we heard Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig cover Simon and now Simon himself performs a Jimmy Cliff cover. Continue reading »

Mar 252011

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Born in 1947, the man christened Reginald Kenneth Dwight has left a stunning mark on popular culture in the last four decades. Over 30 albums, two animated films, two Broadway plays and a host of crazy costumes later, Elton John‘s still standing. Unlike many musicians his age, John’s work output has not slowed, nor has his popularity. Just last year he released a Grammy-nominated album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell, and he’ll soon embark on a worldwide greatest hits tour. John and his domestic partner David Furnish also recently welcomed a child into their household via surrogate. That lucky little tyke gets to count Lady Gaga as one of his godmothers. Continue reading »