Harder They Come

Harder They Come

5.0 3
by Jimmy Cliff

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If this isn't the single most popular reggae record in the world, it is surely one of the most influential. More people got turned on to Jamaican music by this soundtrack album and the Perry Henzel film it accompanied than any other work you can name. The story was brutal and irresistible: A wide-eyed country boy (played by Jimmy Cliff)…  See more details below


If this isn't the single most popular reggae record in the world, it is surely one of the most influential. More people got turned on to Jamaican music by this soundtrack album and the Perry Henzel film it accompanied than any other work you can name. The story was brutal and irresistible: A wide-eyed country boy (played by Jimmy Cliff) comes to the big city to make his fortune as a singer. He voices a few tunes, gets ripped off by a crooked producer, gets caught up in the ganja trade before going out in a blaze of machine-gun fire -- just like the cowboy stars of his beloved spaghetti westerns. The film gains much of its power from masterful performances from two of Jamaica's greatest singers: Cliff and Toots Hibbert, sanctified lead vocalist of the Maytals and the man credited with coining the term "reggae." Toots rocks as usual on cuts like "Pressure Drop," and Cliff runs the emotional gamut from the exquisite gospel-tinged lament "Many Rivers to Cross" to the exuberant title track that guarantees "as sure as the sun will shine / I'm gonna get my share of what's mine." Get yours.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Toby Ball
In 1973, when the movie The Harder They Come was released, reggae was not on the radar screen of American pop culture. The soundtrack went a ways toward changing that situation. It is a collection of consistently excellent early reggae songs by artists who went on to thrive with reggae's increased popularity, and others for whom this is the most well-known vehicle. Jimmy Cliff is both the star of the movie and the headliner on the soundtrack. He contributes three excellent songs: the hymnal "Many Rivers to Cross," "You Can Get It If You Really Want," and "The Harder They Come" (the latter two are repeated at the end of the album, but you probably wanted to hear them again anyway). Interestingly, the better production values of his songs actually seems to detract from them when compared to the rougher, but less sanitized, mixes of the other tracks. All the songs on this collection are excellent, but some truly stand out. Toots & the Maytals deliver two high-energy songs with "Sweet and Dandy" and "Pressure Drop" (covered by the Clash among others). Scotty develops a mellow, loping groove on "Stop That Train" (not the same as the Wailers' song by the same name) and the Slickers prove on "Johnny Too Bad" that you don't have to spout profanity or graphic violence to convey danger. The Harder They Come is strongly recommended both for the casual listener interested in getting a sense of reggae music and the more serious enthusiast. Collections don't come much better than this.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jimmy Cliff   Primary Artist,Vocals,Track Performer
Desmond Dekker   Track Performer
Toots & the Maytals   Track Performer
Melodians   Track Performer
Scotty   Track Performer
Maytals   Track Performer
Winston Grennan   Drums
Slickers   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Jimmy Cliff   Composer,Producer
Byron Lee   Producer
Brenton Dowe   Composer
John Bryant   Cover Illustration
Gully Bright   Composer,Producer
Margaret Goldfarb   Reissue Production Coordination
Leslie Kong   Producer
Trevor McNaughton   Composer
Roger Steffens   Liner Notes
Perry Henzell   Producer
Erick Labson   Mastering
Derrick Harriott   Producer
Mathieu Bitton   Reissue Design

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The Harder They Come 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
poughkeepsiejohn More than 1 year ago
When Perry Hanzell released his movie "The Harder They Come" in 1972, it became one of those unexpected, watershed films that struck a nerve in those who saw it. Here was a movie that not only captured the hard-luck living of Jamaicans just as they achieved their independence but it also featured a pulsating soundtrack that fully encapsuled that time. It encapsuled it very much the way "Sgt. Pepper" did with The Summer Of Love. The soundtrack album of that movie, now available in Universal's Deluxe Edition, makes it clear that this was certainly the case and like "Sgt. Pepper", there isn't a bad song on the record. The movie and the soundtrack made a major star out of Jimmy Cliff as his character sturggled to make a living as a singer in the urban jungle of Kingston only to be trapped by bad luck and hard circumstance and to eventually end up on the run as a murderer. Cliff's songs, particularly the title track, tell that story well even after all these years. So do the tunes by Toots and The Maytals ("Pressure Drop") and Desmond Dekker ("007 Shanty Town"). My favorite song is "Johnny Too Bad", written and performed by The Slickers, in which their message of the dangers of criminal life were amplified when one of the members of that group killed another and ended up in prison. Since this is a Universal Deluxe Edition, there is also a second disc featuring a wealth of other great reggae tunes. Some of them are by Cliff, such as the profoundly sad "Vietnam". Some of them are by Dekker, like his wonderful signature song, "The Israelites". Some of them are by Toots, including his brilliant "54-46 (That's My Number)". Yet, there are also some excellent choice tunes here, such as Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby", later covered by UB-40 and The Rolling Stones. There is even an alternate take of the title song listed as "The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall". Many words have been used to describe the influence and impact that this album had on American culture at the time. However, it's important to keep in mind that this came out the same time that Bob Marley was becoming a Third World superstar, releasing "Catch A Fire", another sensational album from Universal Deluxe Edition. As soulful, catchy and swinging as this album is, it's easy to forget what an impression this beautiful and timeless soundtrack has become. Fortunately, this deluxe edition reminds us about that, too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
JIMMY CILFF, is the first and formost influential reggae musician of the last half centry.' MISS JAMAICA' is the song that started it all. Many great albums were to follow. My favorite album is 'STRUGGLING MAN' If you get a chance to see JIMMY CLIFF in person don't pass the opportunity to see this great act. MIKE HOLLARN
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jimmy Cliff’s soundtrack album to the movie, The Harder They Come, is my favorite reggae album of all time. The sound is even clearer and sharper now that it has been digitally re-mastered. If you like Bob Marley than I definitely recommend that you check out Jimmy cliff. His vocal ranges from being upbeat and cheerful to a more serious and emotional tone. My favorites include “You Can Get It If You Really Want” with its catchy melodic sound and “Many Rivers To Cross” which was later on covered by UB40. The re mastered soundtrack includes a second disc with songs by top reggae artists like Desmond Dekker and the Toots and the Maytals. This album features the best reggae musicians of all time and I highly recommend it too all music lovers.