Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wonderful World, Beautiful People

Before he became a reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff hit the Pop Charts with Wonderful World, Beautiful People, a #18 hit in early 1970.

An international, worldwide star, Cliff probably had his LEAST amount of success here in the United States, where his only other Top 40 Chart Hit was a remake of the Johnny Nash song, I Can See Clearly Now, released 24 years later. (It ALSO peaked at #18.)

Born in Jamaica in 1948 (his real name is James Chambers), Cliff had his first #1 Jamaican Hit in 1962 at the age of 14, when Hurricane Hattie (a song about the recent Caribbean storm) topped the charts. He later dropped out of college to pursue a music career and, in 1965, moved to Britain. Three years later, Cliff represented Jamaica in the International Song Festival held in Brazil, and won an award for his composition Waterfall. By now, reggae music was becoming the latest rage in England ... I remember John Lennon stating in a teen magazine interview back in 1966 that he thought reggae would be the next big thing ... and today's featured Forgotten Hit, Wonderful World, Beautiful People hit #6 in Britain.

Other reggae acts started to hit the charts as well, including the previously mentioned Johnny Nash (who moved to Jamaica in the late '60's) and Desmond Dekker and the Aces, who scored a big U.S. hit with Israelites (another former Forgotten Hit.)

In 1972, Cliff starred in the semi-autobiographical film The Harder They Come,
winning critical acclaim (and introducing reggae music and the music of Bob Marley to the rest of the world at large when it was FINALLY released here in the States in 1975!)

Cliff continues to record and tour all over the world (and also appears in films from time to time as well.)

Meanwhile, this is a song that deserves a spot back in oldies rotation ... give it a listen and see if you don't agree ... a nice, uplifting song ... catchy ... easy to sing along with ... and promotes a positive message ... let's get this one back on the air!!!