Pressure Drop (song)

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"Pressure Drop"
Single by the Maytals
from the album Monkey Man and The Harder They Come
B-side "Smoke Screen" (by Beverley All Stars)
Released 1970 (1970)
Format 7" single
Recorded 1969
Genre Reggae
Label Beverly's, Trojan Records
Songwriter(s) Frederick "Toots" Hibbert
Producer(s) Leslie Kong
the Maytals singles chronology
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"Pressure Drop"
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"Sweet & Dandy/Oh Yea" "Pressure Drop" "54 46 (Was My Number)/The Man"

"Pressure Drop" is a song recorded in 1969 by the Maytals for producer Leslie Kong. The song appears on their 1970 album Monkey Man (released in Jamaica by Beverley's Records) and From the Roots (released in the UK by Trojan Records). "Pressure Drop" helped launch the band's career outside Jamaica when the song was featured in the soundtrack to the 1972 film The Harder They Come, which introduced reggae to much of the world.[1] In 2004, Rolling Stone rated the song No. 453 in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2] This song has been covered often, most notably by the Specials, Keith Richards, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, and the Clash.

"Pressure Drop" refers to the barometric pressure. This song predates modern weather forecasting, and at that time in the context of this song, island populations relied on the simple but reliable instrument (barometer) to predict adverse weather. The liquid barometer displays pressure as a measure of the fluid in a glass tube, and when the air pressure drops the fluid level "drops" accordingly. A rapid drop in air pressure indicates the severity of the approaching storm (hurricane), and is sometimes referred to as "the bottom dropping out". Attention to pressure changes could spell the difference between life and death for an island dweller. "Pressure drop" is used as a clever poetic device in this song, and is the artists way of saying *a storm is coming for you*.

The song was featured in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the radio station K-Jah West.[3]

In an interview in 2016, songwriter Frederick "Toots" Hibbert said that "Pressure Drop" was a song about karmic justice.

It’s a song about revenge, but in the form of karma: if you do bad things to innocent people, then bad things will happen to you. The title was a phrase I used to say. If someone done me wrong, rather than fight them like a warrior, I’d say: “The pressure’s going to drop on you.”.

— Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, The Guardian[4]


  1. ^ "Rolling Stone : Pressure Drop". Archived from the original on 30 April 2007. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  2. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2004-12-09. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
  3. ^ "Various - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Official Soundtrack Box Set (Box Set)". 2004-12-07. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  4. ^ Simpson, Dave (2016-09-06). "Toots and the Maytals: how we made Pressure Drop". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-09-06.

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