Monday, November 5, 2012

Collection Essentials #3: The Harder They Come

Jimmy 'Too Bad' Cliff

The Harder They Come the soundtrack of the ‘country boy goes to the city and goes bad’ film from Jamaica, starring Jimmy Cliff was one of the early bridgeheads of reggae music into the American market. In the early 70’s when the film was released, those who had heard of reggae in the US probably numbered no more than a few hundred music nerds.  But after the soundtrack received considerable airplay and the sweet tenor of Jimmy Cliff, singing some of his most memorable tunes (Sitting Here in Limbo, Many Rivers to Cross) American ears wanted to hear more.

Stevie Wonder followed up with a groovy song called Boogie On, Reggae Woman and by the mid-70’s Bob Marley and the Wailers were favorites of music snobs and college radio stations. The rest is history.

Every song on this record is vital and absolutely essential to any record collection. If you’re not into reggae than this is a wonderful place to start. You get some of the finest of Jamaica’s musicians (Toots and the Maytals, Scotty, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker) performing lively, snappy and smooth reggae tunes.  Indeed, every song on this album is now so deeply ingrained in our collective memory that they are like dear friends.  And still, 40 years after the movie came out, they are remain moving and fun and danceable.  My youngsters, who had to endure dad singing, Johnny Too Bad, this afternoon can attest to this!

Ned Wood, my old friend, who is now retired somewhere up the wilds of Alaska, brought this record to my attention in the late 70’s.  There is no question. This HAS to be in your collection.

            Track Listing:
            01 The Harder They Come
02 Draw Your Brakes
03 Rivers Of Babylon
04 Many Rivers To Cross
05 Sweet And Dandy
06 The Harder They Come
07 Johnny Too Bad
08 Shanty Town
09 Pressure Drop
10 Sitting In Limbo
11 You Can Get It If You Really Want

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