Jimmy Cliff in The Harder They Come

r-551103-1507215141-8967-jpegI was in the local used record store the other day looking through the stacks for something of interest and coming up with nothing much, well, nothing I felt I could justify spending the money on at least. There is a lot there I’d like to buy but sometimes the prices are prohibitive, such as a Mogwai 12″ single priced at £35, way too rich for my blood.

I did come across the soundtrack to the movie, The Harder They Come, a film from 1972. A young Jamaican man, wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers. I found a trailer for the DVD release, and if you look you can find the whole film on youtube, actually, I’ll just post it at the end of this to save you the trouble. Here is that trailer though:

The movie has some killer tunes which, I think, make this a pretty essential album. The one I was most pleased about, and which I hadn’t noticed was even on the album when I bought it, is Pressure Drop by The Maytals, love that track.

The soundtrack is mostly Jimmy Cliff though, and the tracks he provides are also essential. Hopefully you already know them, but just in case here they are (one is from 2012, the Jools Holland Show, great performance, he was 64 at the time):

I have never found Rivers of Babylon even remotely listenable, although I can only recall the Boney M version, but this one by The Melodians, well, I rather like it actually:

Johnny Too Bad by The Slickers was quite the surprise as John Martyn did a version on the album Grace and Danger, although I never knew it was a version, so to hear it performed so completely differently was great. The lyrics have been changed about a bit from the original Slickers version but here are both:

I have no idea why the last two tracks on the albums B side are also on the A side, but it doesn’t matter, they are worth listening to again anyway. This is an essential album and if it isn’t in that 1001 albums before you die book, it bloody well should be.

Oh, and there’s even some Desmond Decker:

Why aren’t you getting your own copy right now? No point in delaying, get on with it.


A1 –Jimmy Cliff  – You Can Get It If You Really Want
A2 –Scotty – Draw Your Brakes
A3– The Melodians – Rivers Of Babylon
A4 – Jimmy Cliff – Many Rivers To Cross
A5 – The Maytals- Sweet And Dandy
A6 – Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come

B1 –The Slickers – Johnny Too Bad
B2 – Desmond Dekker- Shanty Town
B3 – The Maytals – Pressure Drop
B4 – Jimmy Cliff – Sitting In Limbo
B5 – Jimmy Cliff – You Can Get It If You Really Want
B6 –Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come

Rating: 9.2

I am not recommending the film by the way, just the soundtrack.