The Harder They Come (1973) was the movie and soundtrack that launched reggae into prominence, especially in the USA.
Reggae was generally overshadowed in the USA by other Caribbean music such as calypso. Then in 1968 Desmond Dekkerscored a Top Ten hit with “Israelites.” AfterJohnny Nash reached #1 with the reggae-infused pop single “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1972, American interest expanded dramatically. However, The Harder They Come soundtrack was a UK hit for almost a year before being released in the USA.
Jimmy Cliff, the movie’s lead actor, composed and performed the album’s most popular songs: “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and “The Harder They Come.” But all the performers deliver great music, especially Dekker (“Shanty Town”), The Maytals (“Pressure Drop”), and The Slickers (“Johnny Too Bad”).
Several hit tracks also inspired hit covers: “Sitting In Limbo” (Cliff) by The Neville Brothers, and “Rivers of Babylon” (The Melodians) by Boney M. Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” has inspired dozens of covers.
This album is available in CD and MP3 format from major vendors. Please consider purchasing it from a local independent record store.
Here’s an interesting fact!
In 2003 The Harder They Come was reissued with a bonus disc. It includes Jimmy Cliff’s first hits, “Wonderful World, Beautiful People,” and “Vietnam.” It also includes “Israelites,” and “I Can See Clearly Now.” Cliff performs a marvelous cover of Nash’s classic on another soundtrack: Cool Runnings.
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